So here they are, the Diocese have issued precautions for parishes to take in the wake of the Swine Flu virus.
These precautions largely centre around Holy Communion, but also include guidelines on Parish visiting among other things.
As far as Communion is concerned we are being asked to celebrate in one kind not two OR celebrate in two but make bread only available from main communion points and wine ‘by choice’ AND a blanket ban on intincting as well as tissues and antisceptic(sorry antiseptic) wipes instead of purificators.
Also a liturgical alcohol rinse of the hands before commendation (so that’ll please the Anglo-Catholics among us).
Now these may be sensible precautions to take in these times of heightened concern, and indeed hygiene, particularly during the Eucharist, is good common sense.
However I am concerned that these guidelines are more to do with public / media opinion than actually the issue of spreading the virus.
Swine Flu is not turning out to be the disease everyone feared it would be. In fact it seems that while deaths from Swine Flu are as tragic as death from any virus or disease, they are less prevalent than in many other day-to-day viruses. Indeed ‘normal’ flu is more lethal in percentage of cases > deaths.
Swine Flu is news because it is New and because the media are near-hysterical about it. Add to this that in typical NHS fashion the Health Service are panicing and prescribing the Tamiflu drug to anyone with a temperature of 38°C or higher and you get a state of heightened public anxiety and hysteria.
My question is this, are we making these guidelines as a genuine response to a threatening virus OR as a response to media hype? If it is the latter are we not simply adding to the hype being generated by a media desperate to sell papers or get you to tune into their brand of ‘news’?
This Sunday at CC we will be following the guidelines, hygiene is important and we need to be prepared to engage in an area that is a genuine concern for many folk.
But I wonder how real the threat actually is.