Diocese monitors swine flu outbreak

By | April 30, 2009

The Diocese of Green Bay has received inquiries about ways to limit the spread of the swine flu during celebration of the Eucharist. The diocese had not issued any directives as of press time, but reminded parishes and church members that those who are ill may be invited to refrain from shaking hands at the sign of peace and from drinking from the chalice.

In 2005, amid fears of the avian flu, the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of the Liturgy issued guidelines to be used during outbreaks of colds and flu. These include:

n “Priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion especially should be reminded of the need to practice good hygiene. All who distribute holy Communion should be encouraged to wash their hands before Mass begins, or even to use an alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing holy Communion. They should instruct people who feel ill to not receive from the cup.”

n “Persons who have been directed by their medical advisors that they are particularly susceptible to infection may choose to refrain from any practices by which they might become sick, including shaking hands, receiving holy Communion on the tongue, drinking the Precious Blood from the chalice, etc.”

n “The Diocesan Bishop should always be consulted regarding any changes or restriction of options in the celebration of Roman Catholic Liturgy.”

The Green Bay Diocese is continuing to monitor the situation and will issue any necessary liturgical adaptations as the need arises. These will be communicated to parishes, and posted on the diocesan Web site at www.gbdioc.org and on The Compass Web site at www.thecompassnews.org.

Symptoms of swine flu are similar to any flu – sudden fever over 100 degrees, chills and body aches, headache, sore throat, coughing and sneezing. Swine flu exposes one to risks of more serious infections such as pneumonia.

If anyone has recently traveled to Mexico or areas of the U.S. where the flu has been reported and experiences symptoms, they should see their family doctor or a local health department official as soon as possible.

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