H1N1 Flu Precautions at Church

13 05 2009

Japan has three or so confirmed cases of H1N1 flu however some churches have already introduced measures they think will help prevent the spread of the flu.  Two examples are these very busy churches in Tokyo St Ignatius and the Franciscan Chapel Center Roppongi.  On the main page of their website St Ignatius has a prominent notice titled Information about Influenza A(H1N1)

Their  website is here.  The notice reads

May 9 2009

To avoid the spread Influenza A(H1N1), for the time being, there will be no Holy Water at the entrance of the Chapels.

May 1st 2009

From now on, taking into consideration the government’s regulations, we will need to take measures here to prevent the spreading of the virus. These measures might include the suspension of masses, confessions and all kinds of meetings.
We will keep you informed through the Church’s Home Page and the Bulletin Board. Please check it before coming to Church.

As a first step, beginning on Monday, May 4th, Holy Communion will only be placed in the hand (not in the mouth). We ask for your understanding and cooperation.

The FCC does not have an obvious notice on their website rather you have to look to the most recent bulletin which is a pdf document.

The Pastor writes:

I have decided to take the following measures at Holy Mass, in order to reduce the possibility of spreading influenza.

1.  At the greeting of peace bow to each other.  Avoid shaking hands or making any physical contact.

2.  At holy communion, receive the Eucharist on your hand. We will not give it in the mouth.

3.  Before holy communion, priests and communion ministers will wipe their hands with disinfecting paper towels.

I also urge everyone to wash your hands and gargle before coming to Mass, and after returning home.  <snip>  We will observe these measures until the danger is over.

A few clarifications.  At Masses in Japanese the sign of peace is a bow but for English and other language Masses people shake hands so that particular parish insists on bowing only now.  Gargling may sound silly however it it is a very common practice here that people do thinking will help prevent illness.  People don’t simply gargle with water but a store bought solution of which a few drops are mixed with water then gargled.  I have no idea what is in the solution.

Now my two yen.  I am torn between thinking it is good that they are taking precautions and thinking that they are over reacting.   Practically speaking though I do have food and supplies at home mainly in case of an earthquake but they can be used to cover a quarantine too.  I remember watching the news and hearing a Mexican family who had been quarantined at home for a week say how they are really low on food.  I know some governments urge people to have a three day supply of food and water in case of emergency but I think that is not enough and people should have as much supply as they can possibly store.  Plus supplies of toiletries, cleaning supplies, medical supplies, and so on.


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4 responses

13 05 2009
h1n1 flu

I am one of those people that held off on getting checked out by a doctor, just to find out its bronchitis. But I had 3 of those symptoms for swine flu, yet it wasn’t it. Pretty contagious it seems to be though. Even with hand sanitizing & mouth covering, people will still get sick. Fact of Life. Deal with it. Can’t run & hide like children ya know!

13 05 2009
OneofThem

In my honest opinion, it’s a bit of an overreaction. We’ve had many more cases of H1N1 here in America, including ones close to where I live, and yet the parishes in my diocese are focusing on telling people that it’s much more likely to get H1N1 from touching doorknobs, etc. than from holy water, the sign of peace, or the Precious Blood; they’ve stressed that the danger is not so high as to universally prohibit any of those three things.

14 05 2009
Anthony OPL

I’m not about to call the religious in Japan a bunch of iconoclasts, but I do think it quite hasty to deprive the faithful of sacramentals, let alone violate universal canon law and refuse the normative method of holy communion. Only the Congregation for Divine Worship, or the Holy Father himself, have the authority to refuse communion on the tongue for anything besides risk of profanation.

Scientifically speaking it would make far more sense to prohibit EMHCs and communion in the hand, because it reduces the number of potential infection vectors to a single person (the priest) and eliminates contact between hands (if the priest’s hands are infected, then all of the hosts will be anyway – but if they’re not, they won’t become infected by placing the sacred species on people’s tongues).

17 05 2009
a NY Priest

Amen, Anthony OPL.

These things scream of agenda.
As to the holy water, why not put a little chlorine bleach in there. I an under the impression – but don’t know for sure – that it would kill virus germs.

It would seem best to have ONLY priests distribute holy Communion and do it on the tongue of people who are stationary at an altar rail in the traditional manner. Having distributed Communion both in in this way and with people coming forward in a line to receive either of the tongue or hand, I can affirm that on the tongue of a stationary person is the most sanitary.
Communion in the hand means that a priest always end up touching people’s hands – the hands that someone may have just sneezed into or picked up germs when touching a door handle. Then he touches other hosts and other hands.
People receiving on the tongue while moving along in a line is also risky because both they and the priest’s hand is moving.
The traditional way has a person kneeling with mouth open. The priest alone moves and places a host on the tongue. There is also a communion plate under the chin so the host does not accidentally fall.

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