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Catherine Therese

Coronavirus & Communion on the tongue

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Catherine Therese

In my diocese in NSW, Australia, the Bishop ordered that the Eucharist was not to be given on the tongue during the coronavirus crisis.  

Given the demographic of the diocese there is a very high likelihood that people have been moving between Australia and China for Chinese New Year and may have managed to get back in to the country before the borders were closed. 

Much as this temporary denial of communion on the tongue is distasteful in my view - since when in the history of the Church has the Eucharist ever been a vehicle for the spread of disease? - I nevertheless think that in theory this is a legitimate use of his Episcopal authority, provided the order is lifted after the incubation period of 14 days from when the borders were closed has passed or something similarly sensible and temporary (assuming we don't start seeing human-to-human transmission of the virus start up here while we're waiting out the incubation period.) There are some among my family and friends that are concerned that this will be leveraged to prevent us receiving on the tongue indefinitely. (I personally think this concern  of theirs arises from a sad but understandable mistrust in this particular Bishop, and is just a conspiracy theory until at least about 3 weeks have passed. I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise.)

They have also discarded the practice of the sign of peace and they have emptied the holy water fonts. While I'm not all that cut up about disrupting the Mass with handshakes-all-round, I'm thinking that if they're going to empty the holy water fonts I'm disappointed to see them NOT take advantage of the "teachable moment" by perhaps blessing everyone with holy water before or after the Mass using an aspergilium and explaining about the importance and value of sacramentals. 

Anyway, neighbouring dioceses have not taken any of these measures. I have to confess to ducking across the diocesan border and attending Mass where I was confident I could still receive on the tongue. 

What are your thoughts? Are there provisions in canon law - or even the GIRM - that give guidance on these kinds of circumstances? My areas of study these days are pretty much Scripture, history and spirituality. I'm really not super well-informed on liturgy or canon law and what norms and practices a bishop can or cannot change. 

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dUSt

My church has skipped the handshakes and distributing the Blood.

As far as the tongue--I guess the fear is that the priest would accidentally touch someone's tongue and then spread the saliva to the next person? I'm actually not sure if the risk of that is greater than the risk of contaminating His body with whatever germs you have on your hands when you have to receive in the hand.

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