Sunday, January 19, 2014

H1N1 prompts bans on Communion under Both Kinds in Mexico

I can't find this story online, but it is in the print edition of the Catholic Universe, 19th Jan 2014.

Virus Prompts Mass Change

Rio Grande: Growing concern over the spread of the H1N1 virus has prompted the Mexican Church to change the way the Mass is delivered. To prevent the transfer of the virus, some priests are not serving the Blood of Christ from a communal chalice, while others have have further and stopped giving Communion completely. 

"Some parishes have decided not to have Communion," said Rev Mgr Heberto Diaz of the diocese of Brownsville. "And that's up to the local pastor of each of the parishes. If someone is ill, then they shouldn't receive from the chalice." 

Parishioners are also being discouraged from shaking hands at the 'Sign of Peace' before Communion, which can also transfer the H1N1 virus. 

Mgr Diaz says the best way that churches can help prevent the spread of the flu virus is by reminding parishioners that it's perfectly fine to miss church if they are sick. "It's not a sin not to come to church on Sunday if you're ill, or if you feel you could be contagious to others," he said.

This seems unusually badly written, and I don't want to attribute too quickly to the bishops of Mexico the strange claims or terminology implied in the report. I assume it has been through some kind of news agency, though the Catholic Universe does not say what the source is.

(No, it is not 'up to each pastor' to refuse Communion to the entire parish at whim - such a thing would only be licit of the Bishop had issued a decree, effectively calling an emergency situation.)

It is interesting that the H1N1 / Communion Under Both Kinds issue hasn't gone away. In England we had all this back in 2009. The people still determined to ignore the public health aspects of the question are going to feel increasingly beleaguered.

To reiterate what the FIUV Position Paper on the general issue of Communion under One or Both kinds said, the hygiene problem is not with the early Medieval Western practice of reception from the Chalice (using a straw) in small congregations once or twice a year. The problem is certainly not with Vatican II's suggestion that one or a few people receive from the Chalice in addition to the priest once or twice in a lifetime. Nor is the problem with the Eastern practice of intinction using a spoon which does not touch the Communicant's lips or tongue. The problem is with the practice unique to the Latin Church after 1970, in direct contradiction of the liturgical law of the 1970s and early 1980s, until they gave up trying to enforce it, of large congregations receiving the Chalice (with little solemnity) every Sunday of the year.

Read the Position Paper here.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. Quite apart from whether this story is true or not, it raises an important issue.

    The practise of large numbers drinking from one chalice is inherently unhygienic. The last person receiving will almost certainly be taking pathogens, i.e., bacteria, viri, and fungi, as well as detectable amounts of DNA, from probably every person before. The use of a cloth, smearing detectable amounts of the Sacred Blood and saliva over the edge of the chalice, in no way counters this, although it might well mean that a quantity of the Sacred Blood is transferred to the servers fingers.

    This practise should be stopped apart from, perhaps, marriage ceremonies, and maybe the Last Rites.

    Administering the Host from washed and dried hands edge down onto the tongue, contrary to reports put out recently, is hygienic and could be safely done by clergy who have been taught to understand the procedure, even if there exists within the community, a hand or saliva transmitted contagion

    1. Anonymous2:38 am

      The reason they wipe the chalice has nothing to do with hygiene. It's out of respect for our Lord.

      No one even ever dies or even gets seriously sick from chalice bacteria--you guys just love to pretend that Catholicism is dangerous because you're inspired by Satan.

      I wish we could throw all Americans in the ocean and start over! (I'm not feeling charitable with the rampant heretics and apostates today.)