THE CHURCH'S LITURGICAL RESPONSE TO INFLUENZA
Throughout the years, the USCCB Secretariat of Divine Worship has addressed the liturgical implications of the transmission of pathogens on numerous occasions. With the flu season now taking place in the United States, we offer the following brief reflections on influenza and the liturgy. Continuously updated information on influenza is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.CDC.gov/flu...
In previous years, what has the Church done in localities where the outbreak of Influenza is most significant?
In those localities where the outbreak of the disease has been the most significant, bishops have introduced
several liturgical adaptations in regard to such practices as the distribution of Holy Communion and the exchange of the Sign of Peace in order to limit the spread of contagion.
What measures should be taken in Roman Catholic liturgies in the United States of America during flu season?
Priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should be especially reminded of the need to practice good hygiene. Ministers of Holy Communion should always wash their hands before Mass begins; a further precaution suggests using an alcohol-based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion. The faithful should be instructed not to receive from the chalice if they feel ill.
What about further adaptations or the restriction of options at Mass?
The Diocesan Bishop should always be consulted regarding any changes or restriction of options in the
celebration of Roman Catholic Liturgy. However, the need for the introduction of widespread liturgical
adaptations for the prevention of the transmission of influenza in the dioceses of the United States of America is not evident at this time.
What is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops doing to address this question?
While the USCCB Secretariat of Divine Worship will continue to monitor the situation and provide the best advice possible to Diocesan Bishops and their Offices for Worship, it is ultimately the responsibility of the Diocesan Bishop to recommend or mandate liturgical changes in response to influenza in particular local areas. The Secretariat likewise appreciates whatever information Diocesan Offices for Worship are able to provide concerning local conditions and the pastoral responses developed by Diocesan Bishops.
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." (Luke 22:19-20)