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Archbishops Update on Swine ‘Flu – time to resume normal practice?

On November 27th Ely Diocesan Bishop’s Advisor for Emergency Planning issued this update based on recommendations from the Archbishop on the Swine ‘Flu situation and use of the common cup:
“Tidings of comfort and joy, ladies and gentlemen.
In the light of continuing consultation with the Department of Health, and
with updated information on the course of the Swine Flu pandemic, the


1.         The Archbishops will continue to monitor the situation closely.

2.         The pandemic alert level remains high.  It is crucial that good
hygiene continues.  Specifically –

a.         in respect of the bread –

·         communion should not be given on the tongue;

·         care should be taken to ensure that the fingers of the person
distributing the sacrament do not come into contact with the communicants’

·         high standards of hand hygiene should be maintained with soap and
water or handrubs;

b.         in respect of the wine –

·         intinction by the communicant should be discouraged, and is an
undesirable practice even by Eucharistic ministers, since the Department of
Health advise that the practice may present a greater risk factor than the
common cup;

·         the use of individual communion cups is not lawful in the Church
of England;

·         a chalice of gold, silver or other metal should be used rather
than of pottery, and especially of unglazed pottery;

·         the rim of the chalice should be firmly wiped with a purificator
after each communicant;

·         the same part of the purificator should not be used repeatedly,
nor should it be allowed to become sodden;

·         in addition to ritual ablutions, the chalice should be thoroughly
cleaned after use.

3.         Local discretion should be observed where there is continuing
concern about the incidence of swine flu in the community.

4.         Communicants should feel free to choose to receive communion in
one kind only.  While communion in both kinds is the norm in the Church of
England, in faithfulness to Christ’s institution, when it is received
faithfully only in one kind the fullness of the Sacrament is received none
the less.

It is important to remember that, while the common cup may now represent a minimal risk for healthy adults, the evidence regarding the link between a
shared chalice and transmission of disease is mixed and suggests that for
those whose immune systems have been compromised a notable hazard may still be present.  Neither the alcoholic content of wine  nor the antiseptic
qualities of noble metals provide protection against the flu virus, which
can survive for a significant period outside a host body.

Communicants who have been identified by the Department of Health as beingat increased risk from contracting the swine flu virus will need to considerwhether they should return yet to their former Eucharistic practice.
The Archbishops conclude their communiqué by thanking us for ourpatience
and cooperation during this recent challenging period.

Bishop Anthony commends the Archbishops’ advice to the Diocese and urges the importance of continued vigilance and safe practice.   He joins the
Archbishops in thanking everyone for their patience and cooperation in the
difficult months since Easter.

The Diocesan guidelines (see the Diocesan web site) will be amended.

Michael Goater

Bishop’s Adviser for Emergency Planning

The text of their letter posted  on the Church of England website is as follows:
Archbishops’ statement on swine flu

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued the following statement to the College of Bishops:

Dear Bishop,

In July, during the first wave of the Swine Flu pandemic we issued national advice with regard to the administration of Holy Communion.

This advice was based on information and guidance received from the Department of Health which was geared to the situation at that time and the projected levels of risk suggested by the potential course of the pandemic.  Since then the scientific understanding of the Swine Flu virus has advanced, further experience of the course of the epidemic has been gained,  and the first stage of a vaccination programme, targeted at those most at risk from the virus, is nearing completion.

Throughout this period, our advice has been driven by the interests of public health, particularly for the protection of the vulnerable.

In the light of continuing consultation with the Department of Health, and with updated information on the course of the Swine Flu pandemic, we believe that we can now advise that the normal administration of Holy Communion ought to resume.  This recommendation is subject to the guidelines issued in June which set out good hygiene practice for public worship and which allows for local discretion in the event of outbreaks of pandemic flu in particular centres of population.  We shall also continue to monitor the situation.

We wish to thank you for your patience and cooperation during this challenging period for both Church and Community. We are thankful that the pandemic has so far proved less severe than was feared.

Please pass this on to your colleagues in the diocese.

With every blessing,

+Rowan Cantuar               +Sentamu Ebor

So – having talked with many of my colleagues last night – it looks like things will be getting back to normal – though I do think it important to stress that if anyone would rather refrain from using the common cup it is perfectly acceptable to do so.

November 29, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized


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