Friday, October 23, 2009

H1N1: Bishop Kmiec to institute liturgical changes in the Mass

By DOB Office of Communications Bishop Kmiec distributes Holy Communion

With widespread reports of H1N1 and other influenza-like illness in Western New York, Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, bishop of Buffalo, has issued a directive to all parishes in the Diocese of Buffalo to immediately suspend the distribution of Holy Communion through the cup. The bishop is also asking church goers that instead of shaking hands during the Sign of Peace at Mass, they offer a nod or a verbal greeting of peace.

“In the past few weeks, we have seen a dramatic increase in sickness in our Catholic schools and in the workplace,” Bishop Kmiec said. “Based on our consultations with Catholic Health officials and a number of county health departments in Western New York, we feel this is a prudent decision to make at this time. If people are sick, they should stay home. They are excused from their Sunday Mass obligation.”

Bishop Kmiec quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church when he noted, “Since Christ is sacramentally present under each of the species, communion under the species of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of the Eucharistic grace.”

First Holy CommunionThe bishop is also advising priests, deacons and Eucharistic ministers to wash or sanitize their hands prior to the distribution of Holy Communion.

Dr. Brian D'Arcy, senior vice-president for Medical Affairs for Catholic Health, endorsed the decision, “Catholic Health supports the bishop's directive regarding liturgical changes in the Mass related to potential spreading of both seasonal and novel H1N1 flu. From a medical perspective, it makes good sense to take practical measures to minimize the spread of the flu where ever possible,” D’Arcy said.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has posted “Ten Questions on Influenza/H1N1 (Swine) Flu and the Liturgy” and the Erie County Health Department has developed a list of “Ten things you can do to prevent the flu,” including: wash your hands often, especially after coughing and sneezing; wash for 20 seconds with soap and warm water; use alcohol-based hand sanitizers or wipes if soap and water are not available and when coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.

Changes in the liturgy in the Diocese of Buffalo are in effect until further notice.


Pondering: +++Certainly the statement was meant to say Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and not Eucharistic Ministers... I know that old habits die hard, but Cardinal Arinze did make the instruction back in 2004. Redemptionis Sacramentum was a perfectly good document and I do wish more people would read it.+++ The EMHCs that I personally know are very good and faithful people who do not mistake themselves for priests, but I say enough already with calling people Eucharistic Ministers who clearly are not. /rant