Thinking Anglicans

no change to advice on Swine Flu

Back on 16 September, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued an update statement to the whole College of Bishops.

In this they said they would review the policy again at the end of October. They have now issued a further statement, which once again is tucked away on the CofE website (left hand column of this page). The text of the latest statement is reproduced in full below the fold.

It again makes no change to the original policy issued in July and says the policy will be reviewed again in one month’s time.

30TH October 2009


Following our statement in September this year, we have reviewed the situation in light of the latest advice from the Department of Health.

Their latest update, issued last night, shows that the number of new cases has risen. There were 78,000 new cases in England this week with 751 people currently hospitalised. The additional information now available confirms earlier guidance that children under 16 are significantly more susceptible to the virus, and up to 30% may fall ill during this second wave. Deaths worldwide have increased by 12% this week. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) believes that about 520,000 people have been infected by swine flu in England since the outbreak of the pandemic.

The vaccination programme in this country has started this week. The plan is to offer it to all at risk groups by the end of November.

In the light of this, our recommendation, made on 22nd July 2009 to those presiding at Holy Communion in parishes and dioceses, remains unchanged.

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 communication around the Church is good so that we don’t appear at sixes and sevens, and

c) to remember that responsible practice in these areas is not primarily about protecting ourselves but about avoiding transmitting infection unwittingly to others.

In the light of this rapidly changing situation, we do not believe this is the time to issue fresh advice. We are keeping in regular contact with the Department of Health and will continue to consider all relevant information.

We will review our own advice in a month’s time. Until then, we would encourage you to continue to show patience and to pray for all those affected.

+ Rowan Cantuar + Sentamu Ebor

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14 years ago

I still taken aback by the advice to intinct wafers and place them in the *hands* of the communicant. Is this actually happening?

Father Ron Smith
14 years ago

“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 6 November – I wonder whether those who chose not to receive from the Chalice at the Bishop’s meeting could have been bishops who oppose women and gays in the Church? And, if so, could this be a simple coincidence? I ask this, because of the fact that I have noticed that many of those who insisted on… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
14 years ago


Yes, that is actually happening, but without touching the communicant’s hands.

14 years ago

“Yes, that is actually happening, but without touching the communicant’s hands.”

But isn’t it messy? Don’t you end up with consecrated wine in the communicant’s hands?

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
14 years ago

The priest dips the tip of the big consecrated broken wafer into the chalice and places a small drop of wine onto each small wafer. It barely wets the surface and only leaves a small visible red mark.
The wafer is then placed into the communicant’s hands without the hand being touched.
No mess, just body and blood in one.

Weiwen Ng
14 years ago

My church has made hand sanitizer available for those who choose to use it. We place pieces of bread in the hands of communicants. We’re debating on whether to officially discourage intinction. We also have a number of homeless folks among members.

I’ve jokingly suggested adding bourbon whiskey to the Communion wine – it would kill more germs.

14 years ago

Erika, thank you so much for explaining that to me – I am relieved. My diocese published much the same guidelines, without explaining how it was to be done, and since we are not following those guidelines in my parish*, I imagined the worst.

* we’re evidently putting our trust in high-alcohol wine, precious metals, and the mercy of God 🙂

Tiffany Inman
Tiffany Inman
14 years ago

You were right to imagine the worst. I came across this last Sunday. A small wafer dipped in a chalice (about 50% of it, not just the tip) immediately before being placed in my hands. (A server was following the priest and holding the chalice for him).
Slightly messy but as much as I would have guessed. I wondered if I should lick the consecrated wine off my hand – didn’t seem right to leave it there but it was so little it soon dried.

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