Archbishop Hart has released the following letter to parish priests:
Re: Impact of H1N1 Influenza (Human Swine Flu) on Liturgical Practices
You will be aware that the H1N1 Influenza (Human Swine Flu) is extending into our community.
My advice at this time is that currently confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza are exhibiting mild symptoms of illness, typical of the usual seasonal influenza virus. My advice is not to be alarmed but to consider the implications of swine flu in your parish and communities and to keep up to date with the latest information on the outbreak.
If parishioners are unwell they should seek medical attention for the best possible advice and avoid public places and close contact with others.
I remind priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to practice good hygiene. Ministers of Holy Communion should be encouraged to wash their hands before Mass begins or to use an alcohol-based antibacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion.
During the Sign of Peace instead of shaking hands, kissing or embracing, as is practised in some parishes, it would be best to simply nod your head and avoid bodily contact.
When praying the Our Father do not hold hands, as may be practised in some parishes, but simply extend hands toward heaven or fold your hands.
Holy Communion should only be distributed under the species of the Consecrated Host and not the Chalice to limit the spread of germs during the H1N1 epidemic.
Prudence suggests that the reception of Holy Communion be on the hand but with respect for the freedom which the Holy See provides in this matter.
The manner of Christ's presence in the Eucharist is unique. The body and blood of Christ, along with His soul and divinity are truly present. (CCC n.1374) Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species. (CCC 1377)There, to receive Christ present in the host is truly to receive the body and blood of Christ.
I encourage you and your parish community to pray for all those affected by Swine Flu and to join with me in doing our part to prevent its spread. We should accept the advice of the health authorities and wash our hands often and if we are sick, sneezing or coughing we should all stay home.
Any other queries regarding H1N1 Influenza can be directed to....
The situation will be kept under review and these guidelines revoked when the situation improves.
For those who are unable to attend Mass I draw your attention to the availability of “Mass For You At Home” telecast each Sunday at 6am on Channel 10."