Thinking Anglicans

update on swine flu advice

Updated Saturday

This is not very prominently linked on the CofE website, so is copied below.

The Church Times has a report Chalice is returning to the people. This includes the news that

Among the dioceses where advice favours the administering of the chalice to the congregation are Wake­field, Lincoln, Hereford, Gloucester, and St Edmundsbury & Ipswich.

And also this tidbit:

It is understood that at the College of Bishops’ meeting in Oxford this week “the president gave each person the option of receiving the wine or not. All bar less than a handful drank from the chalice.”

Text of Statement

Feast of St Ninian, Bishop of Galloway, Apostle of the Picts
16th September 2009

Dear Colleagues,

SWINE FLU: STATEMENT FROM THE ARCHBISHOPS TO THE COLLEGE OF BISHOPS

At the end of July the Department of Health advised us that the pandemic had reached the stage at which ‘it makes good sense to limit the spread of disease by not sharing common vessels for food and drink.’

In the light of this we felt it would be irresponsible not to alert parishes and dioceses to this advice, and to recommend the suspension of the administration of the chalice while the Department of Health information and advice remained as it was. To date the advice we have been given has not changed.

Of course national advice given by Archbishops is just that – advice – as indeed is any separate advice that Bishops may decide to give to parishes.

Judgments about the best course of action in particular contexts may vary, but it remains important
a) to encourage everyone to recognise that the Church has a responsibility to take public health considerations seriously, and
b) to ensure that communication around the Church is good so that we don’t appear to be at sixes and sevens, and
c) to remember that responsible practice in this area is not primarily about protecting ourselves, but about avoiding transmitting infection unwittingly to others.

We are keeping regular contact nationally with the Department of Health and all relevant information and advice will be passed on.

We have decided to review our own advice towards the end of October, in the light of the information, statistics, and guidance coming by then from the Department of Health. By that time the progress of the vaccination programme and the effects of schools and universities having started back will be assessed.

If at that stage the perceived risk is significantly lower than when we issued our advice at the end of July, then fresh guidelines will be given. We would urge patience and vigilance until we have reached that point.

+ Rowan Cantuar + Sentamu Ebor:

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Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

Is “College of Bishops” a new phrase in an “official” C of E context – it struck me as not being quite the usual phrase in the C of E (whereas it might be the norm in the RC Church), but maybe that’s just me being forgetful or never having noticed it so used before?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Well, at least Eucharist in one kind (bread) only is a la Romana…

Peter Owen
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Fr Mark

In the Church of England the College of Bishops comprises all diocesan and suffragan bishops. It is distinct from the House of Bishops (one of the three houses of General Synod) which comprises all the diocesan bishops plus eight suffragans and the bishop to the forces. There are about 70 suffragans.

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

Fr Mark I too, have never come across this phrase in a C of E context before. It is clearly an innovation and to me sounds rather clericalising and aggrandising.

How could a ‘College of Bishops’ fail to be right ?

Simon Overton
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Simon Overton

I’m already fed up with this- I’d like to take communion as I’ve always done. Clerical hysteria on a mass scale?

Neil
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Neil

Agreed, Simon Overton. Another over-reaction rather than a reminder to be cautiously aware of risks. My church is not at sixes or sevens with the advice – we simply ignore it and allow people to make up their own minds. Nobody who seriously thinks they have Swine Flu is going to receive the chalice. Also when was the last time in the last 2000 years that sharing the chalice wiped out congregations?

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

As has been noted over and over again in the past few months–you are more likely to catch the flu as you pass the peace than as you pass the chalice.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

As has been noted over and over again in the past few months–you are more likely to catch the flu as you pass the peace than as you pass the chalice.

Fr Mark
Guest

Thanks, Peter.

BillyD
Guest

“Also when was the last time in the last 2000 years that sharing the chalice wiped out congregations?” Well, for much of that time in both West and East Communion by the laity was very infrequent, and in the West was given only under the form of Bread; even in the East, the laity doesn’t actually drink from the Chalice. So the appeal to history doesn’t seem to provide much reassurance. Last week I happened to be at a Mass at the local RC cathedral, and saw a woman in what may become high fashion for Mass-goers this flu season:… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

My home parish has digested the information given by health authorities, and the recommendations of the bishops in New Zealand. We have advised the parishioners of the situation, and have continued to offer both Host and Chalice, believing that, as someone else has said here, any contact at all – especially the customary hand-shake – has its own risks. People are advised to do what they feel comfortable with. If they suspect the Chalice to be a source of spreading infection, they may receive the Host only. It is still the fullness of Christ in the Eucharist. We have had… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“…the president gave each person the option of receiving the wine or not.”

How is this different than any other celebration of the Eucharist? In the US, anyone who doesn’t want to drink from the chalice – for whatever reason – has the option of signaling that by crossing their arms in front of them, and the chalice-bearer passes them by. Is it different in England? Do they usually somehow *compel* people to receive in both kinds?

Fr Peter Milligan
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Fr Peter Milligan

Several commentators to this thread seem to be missing the point. Swine Flu is not very dangerous to the individual, if you catch it you are unlikely to die or even suffer seriously. The threat is to the Health Service and the economy of the whole country. If for weeks on end 10% of the population is off work, economic output will fall, and the pandemic will be observable in GDP figures; this in a time of Recession. And it’s not just the economy that may be affected, if 10% of hospital staff are also off each week, treatments will… Read more »

Simon Robert Dawson
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Simon Robert Dawson

Theres’s a bit of an “I’m all right Jack” attitude to some of these posts. Surely as Christians we are called to think of the others and not just ourselves. For example – lets say in a congregation of fifty nearly all are healthy, but three regular communicants are immune impaired. They may have HIV, or be on immune suppressing drugs for any one of a range of medical conditions such as cancer or a transplant. For understandable reasons they want to keep that news to only a few trusted friends – and they do not want to take the… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“If for weeks on end 10% of the population is off work, economic output will fall, and the pandemic will be observable in GDP figures; this in a time of Recession.” Well, maybe this is a symptom of something a lot bigger than whether or not a bunch of Anglicans drink from the same cup. Perhaps we ought to ask the question: “What is wrong with our society if an outbreak of a mild, non-fatal illness can bring our economy to its knees?” I mean, really. The current panic, in which some people have been afraid to send their kids… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“they do not want to take the very small risk of partaking in the Eucharist.” A friend of mine is a priest and he is immune compromised as a result of immunosuppression after a transplant. He consumes the elements at the Ablutions at EVERY Mass he celebrates. Not only has he never had a problem, he is very much against intinction (which is far less safe than a common Cup) and thinks this is all hysteria. Now, that’s anecdotal evidence based on one person, so not at all scientific. But, come on, abstain from the Eucharist because SOMEONE MIGHT be… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

In my US parish, there are always a few who do not take the chalice (most of us intinct, actually) and a few who go to the rail for a blessing but do not receive. I’m pretty sure I only notice because I’m an usher. I doubt the rest of the congregation notices or cares if they do notice. “Joan didn’t take communion….” is not a piece of gossip or news I hear bandied about. An individual’s reasons for taking or not taking communion (in either or both kinds) is nobody else’s business…and I think the right response to anyone… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

In my US parish, there are always a few who do not take the chalice (most of us intinct, actually) and a few who go to the rail for a blessing but do not receive. I’m pretty sure I only notice because I’m an usher. I doubt the rest of the congregation notices or cares if they do notice. “Joan didn’t take communion….” is not a piece of gossip or news I hear bandied about. An individual’s reasons for taking or not taking communion (in either or both kinds) is nobody else’s business…and I think the right response to anyone… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

Pat, your experience meshes with mine. Sometimes (like when I’m afraid that *I* may have something contagious) I receive by intinction, or under one kind. I’ve never, ever heard anybody comment on it, or on anybody else’s Communion reception.

And again, Ford, the 2000 year old “tradition” of the common cup/spoon is hardly that. (By the way, the common spoon – done correctly – avoids contact with the communicant’s mouth altogether…the communicant tips their head back, opens wide, and the priest tips the contents of the spoon into their mouth).

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ford “intinction (which is far less safe than a common Cup)” As far as I understand, intinction means that the priest uses the broken consecrated big wafer to place drops of wine on the small wafers which he or she then dispenses. That is clearly safer than everyone drinking from the same cup. It is not the same as the communicants dipping their own wafers into the wine, which is clearly the least safe option. But in principle, I agree with you, I find the hysteria ridiculous and see no reason why we should not share the common cup. Just… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“If all the rest of the congregants insist on taking the wine then these three, by abstaining (having been regular communicants in the past) will stand out, and invariably their abstentions will be noticed and risk gossip. “Why did Joan/ John not take communion. She/He did last week. I wonder what’s going on?” – Simon Robert Dawson – And is this not precisely why clergy should be quite open with members of the congregation – about the reccommendations of the health boards and the bishops – while yet not inducing panic about the possibility of infection from their recption of… Read more »

Fr Peter Milligan
Guest
Fr Peter Milligan

We seem still to be in the territory of ‘my dad smoked 60 a day and it never did him any harm, he died aged 95’. It’s ‘lets all share our ignorance’ time, down at you local church! It is not always an over-reaction when we are urged to take precautions. Disease is not only a physical and biological phenomenon but affects us corporately as well as individually in many ways. And while it may be true that when the kingdom comes money will be abolished, until then we live in an interconnected world, and a lot of people off… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“For a short period we are not able to share the common cup, just long enough to truly rejoice when it is restored.” I see two problems with this: 1. It’s a false security. As I said, you’re more likely to catch the flu from the person next to you in the pew when you exchange the peace than when you drink from the chalice. 2. “Short periods” have a way of becoming permanent. Who’s to say when the risk of the flu is over? Or that some other infectious disease won’t take its place? We stop sharing the cup… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“For a short period we are not able to share the common cup, just long enough to truly rejoice when it is restored.” I see two problems with this: 1. It’s a false security. As I said, you’re more likely to catch the flu from the person next to you in the pew when you exchange the peace than when you drink from the chalice. 2. “Short periods” have a way of becoming permanent. Who’s to say when the risk of the flu is over? Or that some other infectious disease won’t take its place? We stop sharing the cup… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“1. It’s a false security. As I said, you’re more likely to catch the flu from the person next to you in the pew when you exchange the peace than when you drink from the chalice.”

Well, you’ll also probably see changes in how people pass the peace, too. The last couple of times I’ve been to RC masses there was a lot less handshaking and more waving, nodding, and giving the peace sign.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

I dread to think of what might develop out of all the panic. Perhaps an automatic, sterilised dispensing machine operated by a qualified medical priest-doctor? The mind boggles!

Gerry Lynch
Guest

We’ve never stopped administering communion in both kinds on this side of the Irish Sea, and I’ve yet to hear of an Anglican-inspired mass outbreak of swine flu. Kids going back to school is so much greater a vector of any disease communicable through routine contact that worrying about the chalice is a bit silly.

Yes, God give us Bishops that are educated in mathematics and science, and please make sure they’re educated enough not to jump on every bit of media inspired hysteria.

Stephen Linstead
Guest
Stephen Linstead

It seems to me that there is much muddled thinking about intinction. Yes, there may be a slight risk from self-intinction. But if the priest thoroughly washes his hands at the offertory and places the intincted host in the hand of the communicant, is this any more risky than the act of simply placing the unintincted host in the hand? Once this pandemic is over, Anglicans need to consider ways of administering in both kinds, even if the common cup has to be temporarily abandoned on future occasions.If some don’t like intinction, what about retaining the common cup but administering… Read more »

Stephen Linstead
Guest
Stephen Linstead

One of the statements issued by clergy during the pandemic is that is just as efficacious to receive communion in one kind as in both. This doctrine of “concomitance” needs to be challenged. It is not scriptural – no evidence of receiving in one kind in the NT, it has never been accepted by our Orthodox friends, who always administer and reserve in both kinds, and it was invented by Thomas Aquinas at a time when the RC church was quite outrageously starting to withhold the cup form the laity. It has never formed part of the formularies of the… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Stephen, “But if the priest thoroughly washes his hands at the offertory and places the intincted host in the hand of the communicant, is this any more risky than the act of simply placing the unintincted host in the hand?” If the priest intincts the wafer he uses the broken consecrated wafer to place a drop of wine to the individual wafer. With clean hands he then dispenses this clean wafer to one communicant without touching that communicant’s hands. Self-intinction means that the priest places the wafer onto the hands of the communicant who may be crawling with viruses and… Read more »

Stephen Linstead
Guest
Stephen Linstead

Erika, I wish that some bishops would heed your advice. Some of the statements they issue as to why intinction should be avoided use arguments based on self-intinction and on the risks of placing the intincted wafer in the mouth of the communicant – they are either totally confused on this or being intellectually dishonest. As it is, the possibility of continuing to administer in both kinds during the swine flu pandemic, on the lines endorsed by the two Archbishops, is being frustrated by some of the bishops, followed by clergy who think they have no option but to comply.… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“It is understood that at the College of Bishops’ meeting in Oxford this week “the president gave each person the option of receiving the wine or not. All bar less than a handful drank from the chalice.” – Bill Bowder, Church Times –

In view of the current fear of infection from the Common Cup, I wonder whether the Bishops who did not communicate from the Chalice could have been identifiable by their opposition to women and gays in the Church?