Thursday, April 30, 2009

Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Swine Flu

"Archdiocese addresses influenza concerns" (April 30, 2009) (official newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis)

"The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis wants to be notified immediately, along with the Minnesota Department of Health, if a student in any of its schools may be ill with swine flu, said Andy Eisenzimmer, archdiocesan chancellor for civil affairs.

"That is the message being communicated by e-mail with its schools and parishes, after reports of swine influenza across the nation and in Cold Spring, in the St. Cloud diocese, which prompted the closing of Rocori Middle School and St. Boniface Catholic School. The positive diagnosis for the person in Cold Spring who is recovering and was not hospitalized was confirmed April 20 [sic! April 30, 2009: first confirmed Minn. case].

"However, liturgical guidelines will not change at this time...."

The article is pretty much common sense, and an explanation of what the Archdiocese is doing.

"...'There is no need to tell pastors not to distribute both species or to ask that the sign of peace not be given,' Father Erickson said. 'This is, in essence, the stance currently of the [United States Conference of Catholic Bishops], which currently does not feel it is necessary to issue norms for the whole United States. They've put it in the hands of the local bishops.'

"The archdiocese will include a reminder for pastors, individuals and whole communities that they need to continue to 'exercise discretion and to be extra sensitive to hygiene,' he said. 'Certainly, it's important for pastors and for extraordinary ministers of holy Communion, that they are washing their hands before engaging in this ministry,' Father Erickson said. Sacristans also need to be 'very attentive' when they are washing vessels after they have been purified. And anyone who is feeling ill, should not attend Mass...."

We're supposed to be physically clean when receiving or handling a consecrated Host anyway, so I'm not at all surprised at the archdiocese's position. The USCCB's leaving decisions about this matter up to local bishops is about what I'd expect. There's enough going on at a global and national level, without higher levels of the hierarchy micro-managing dioceses and parishes.

Meanwhile, we've got resources like to provide information.

"...'If this becomes more serious than it is at the moment, I don't want people operating from misinformation or from rumor. We want to communicate precise facts to all our locations, so they can treat [the situation] with the seriousness it needs, but not panic,' he [archdiocesan chancellor for civil affairs Andy Eisenzimmer] said...."

Thanks to catholicspirit on Twitter, for bringing attention to this article.

List of posts relating to Swine flu 2009; and list of background resources, in another blog:

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