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Update on Swine ‘Flu precautions from Archbishops

I am very pleased that there is more central direction coming now from the Archbishops  over swine ‘flu precautions and the use of the chalice. Whilst not everyone might agree we need to take precautions, I think most would say that we all need to be ” singing from the same hymn sheet” or words to that effect otherwise the situation becomes very messy and confusing.

Here is the statement from our Archbishops – July 23rd 2009:

The Feast of St Mary Magdalene

22nd July 2009

Dear Colleague,

It now seems right to offer guidance at a national level about how the Church of England’s worship might best take into account the interests of public health during the current phase of the swine flu pandemic.

The Department of Health have recently advised us that “in a pandemic it makes good sense to take precautions to limit the spread of disease by not sharing common vessels for food and drink”.  In the light of this advice, we recommend those presiding at Holy Communion suspend the administration of the chalice during this wave of pandemic flu. [1] For those who still wish to offer in both kinds, we recommend the practice whereby the presiding minister, whose hands should have been washed with the appropriate alcohol based rub before handling the elements and the vessels, personally intincts all wafers before placing them in the hands of communicants. This is a practice widely observed in Anglican churches throughout Africa. Communicants receiving in this way need to be confident that the clergy and all assistant ministers follow the relevant guidance on hygiene.

The Bishop of Ripon & Leeds circulated substantial guidance, including a summary of the government’s advice[2], with his letter of 23 June[3].  Many of you have already issued local guidance based upon its content.  We regard it as important that those presiding at Holy Communion are aware of this advice[4] and of that contained in this letter.  They should offer guidance to the congregation about appropriate precautions in receiving communion and exchanging the peace.

We shall keep this advice under review and will ensure that the detailed guidance provided on the Church of England website[5] is kept up-to-date.  In the meantime, wish to express our gratitude to you and those who share your ministry for the pastoral care and service offered at this time of national concern.

+Rowan Cantuar:                                +Sentamu Ebor:


The Bishop of Ely has also now responded thus:

As our diocesan guidelines advise, the responsible course of action which we
have adopted in the Diocese is to take all reasonable precautions to limit
the spread of the H1N1 virus. Because the progress of the infection in our
diocese has been uneven, the nature of these precautions have properly been,
and to an extent should remain, a matter of local discretion, having due
regard to the advice of central authorities.

However, in deciding their local response to what is undoubtedly now a more
rapid and widespread advance of the virus in our region, I am advising
parishes today that they should weigh most seriously the Archbishops’ strong recommendation that from this Sunday (26 July 2009) those presiding at Holy Communion should suspend the administration of the chalice during this wave of the pandemic, having regard to the duty of care we owe to the neighbour in our congregations and communities.

Where parishes wish to continue to offer communion in both kinds, my advice is that from this Sunday (26 July 2009), the presiding minister – and s/he alone – should personally intinct all wafers before placing them in the hand of communicants, a practice which is widely observed in Anglican churches in Africa. I would strongly advise against placing the intincted wafer in the communicant’s mouth, since this risks the spread of infection.

As the diocesan guidelines remind us, our communicants need to be confidentthat the clergy and all assistant ministers have followed the guidance on hygiene in this, and, particularly, that ministers’ hands should have been washed with the appropriate alcohol-based rub before handling the elements and the vessels.

The diocesan guidelines also invite parishes to consider their practice when
exchanging the peace. Again in the light of the Archbishops’
recommendations, I would urge now that very serious thought be given to the principle of social distancing in minimising the spread of infection by
avoiding direct personal contact at the peace and at the church door.

I shall keep this advice under constant review and ask that you check
regularly the guidelines on the diocesan website, which will be updated when required and as quickly as possible to take account of the changing
situation.

Thank you to all of you whose ministry in these confused and troubled timesis bringing the love and healing power of Christ to the people of our
Diocese.

The Rt Revd Dr Anthony Russell
The Bishop of Ely

July 23, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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