Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Swine fever revisited

No telling how things will pan out, but I thought it was perhaps worth updating the swine fever state of play. First, the most recent information is somewhat more positive than previously:
  • according to the World Health Organization, there are only seven confirmed deaths, not over 150;
  • it seems to be spread by droplets, no evidence that it is airborne;
  • all of the cases outside Mexico so far are of people who recently visited that country, not onward transmissions.

Now all of that could change, and we should keep praying, but clearly the panic is a little overblown.

All the same, it is clearly better that the authorities take appropriate precautions early than under-react only to have people die unnecessarily as happened in some past disease situations!

Conspiracy theories inc

But I have to say I'm rather bemused by some of the wild and woolly comments on this over at Rorate Caeli, which practically parody extreme traditionalism. So let me make a few more key points:

  • the Church and public authorities in Mexico and elsewhere are taking precautionary measures. There is nothing in our religion that requires us to take undue risks to our health unless there is a very good reason to do so, such as saving someone else's life (in fact, wouldn't recklessly endangering ourselves be sinful?). Devotion to the mass is salutary. And wanting to go to mass at a difficult time is a natural reaction. But putting all catholics at special risk of dying out of devotion to the mass doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me when we could be praying the rosary or saying the Office at home. Not as efficacious? Possibly, although I don't know that this is clearcut theologically - think of all those saints who performed miracles directly through their prayers;
  • Holy Mass does not provide a magical barrier against the transmission of disease. There can be occasions when the eucharist does perform miracles of this kind, but be careful of presumption!;
  • I agree this would be a very good time to ban communion under both kinds, I've always thought it shocking from a health perspective (as well as being problematic by requiring the laity to take hold of the chalice). But a claim that 'Communicating via both species' in some ways dilutes the fact we receive Our Lord in either species' is clearly erroneous - after all, the priest has to communicate under both kinds for at least liciety (and some would argue validity)!

As for some of the conspiracy theorists over there - give me a break!

I'm removing Rorate from my blog list.


Son of Trypho said...

I've been hoping that Rorate would actually seriously moderate their own site - they have had some dreadful posts from readers in the last couple of months which are fuel for those opposed to the conservative/traddie movements. Very sad to see a good site hijacked in that way.

Terra said...

Unfortunately they have been actively moderating - in such a way as to reject sensible and balanced comments. I've been copied in a few of the comments they have rejcted, and it is sad.

A blog can be useful if it opens up debate on something or educates - but when errors go uncorrected and outrageous claims are even encouraged, it ceases to have any merit.

matthias said...

dept of human services victoria has an excellent link regarding swine flu and they have linked it to the Better Health Channel.

As a nurse and as a sociologist,I think it interesting that Mexican deaths (20 to 150?) appear to be amongst the young cohort ,whilst in the USA -so far- they are mild symptoms. Is this a reflection of quicker access to health care, and efficient immune systems? Thus far it is again the story of a developing society affected more than the developed economy,even though Mexico responded quite quickly when cases first appeared

Anthony OPL said...

If Rorate are truly promoting a more militant, extremist position then it is a pity. I have only started following them again recently because they are covering the Church in Asia (most of the big names in the anglophone world are ignorant of the situation, or unable to comment on it regularly).

Peter said...

ah, yes, you get fruit and nuts at Rorate. Though I have to say Carlos Palad normally posts sensibly.

Re; conspiracies - always choose cockup before conspiracy!!

Michael Sternbeck. said...

A wise act to remove Rorate Caeli from your sidebar Terra. Recently Rorate Caeli removed my rights as a contributor, because I challenged New Catholic/ Father Demets FSSP on a deplorable article they posted about Pope Paul VI. They were unabashed, and quite unwilling to allow alternative points of view.

Rorate Caeli has become a rallying point for an extreme form of Traditionalism which I am glad not to be associated with. At a time when Rome is doing what is can to be reconciled to the Society of Saint Pius X, postings on that Blog are frequently doing the Church a disservice.

Prima said...

I've been wondering the same thing about Rorate. I can't get a post in there, but nutcases abound! I'm a traditional Catholic, but some of the comments I've read go way beyond the pale.

Best wishes