Ah the vagaries of the Swine flu response!
How bad is it?
On the one hand, we do now officially have an influenza pandemic. On the other hand, while things could change quickly, the World Health Organization's view is that :
"On present evidence, the overwhelming majority of patients experience mild symptoms and make a rapid and full recovery, often in the absence of any form of medical treatment.
Worldwide, the number of deaths is small. Each and every one of these deaths is tragic, and we have to brace ourselves to see more. However, we do not expect to see a sudden and dramatic jump in the number of severe or fatal infections."
Given the mild symptoms to date (only one person has been hospitalized in NZ), in both Australia and New Zealand Governments have switched from trying to contain the spread of the flu to helping respond to cases of it.
Accordingly, here in Oz, schools are no longer closing, and no drastic measures are being foreshadowed by Church authorities. In the one or two dioceses where measures have been taken, such as Melbourne, there has been a clear indication that communion on the tongue remains lawful, if discouraged.
Not so across the Tasman where traditionalists are now being asked to either receive in the hand or make a spiritual communion, and the possibility of cancelling masses altogether is now being mooted!
Prohibiting reception from the chalice and intinction (well, the later is prohibited any way but!) seems entirely appropriate. But communion on the tongue? At best, this seems like an overreaction.
Couldn't measures like having the priest use medicated wipes as necessary be considered first?
In any case, all catholics should remember that they do have a right to receive communion on the tongue.
You can read the full 'pastoral letter' from the NZ bishops on the Ecclesia Dei Society of New Zealand website.