On Thursday, the bishop of the Tyler Diocese sent out a memo making changes to the way the Eucharist would be performed.
“Due to the current epidemic of H1N1 Flu in the northeast Texas area, I want to begin taking precautions during the reception of the Holy Eucharist,” reads Bishop Joseph Strickland’s memo. “It is important that we safeguard the health of our parishioners as best we can during this flu season.”
From now until the suspension is lifted in most likely a few weeks, Catholics in East Texas will only eat the consecrated bread, and not drink from the chalice. The Bishop also directed that ministers wash their hands before administering communion.
Other churches have safeguards in place already be performing communion diffe- rently.
Doug Baker, senior pastor at Marvin United Methodist, said their service is conducted differently, so no changes were necessary.
The communion at Marvin is only held the first Sunday of every month.
“The pastor hands people the bread only after using hand sanitizer, and we use individual cups,” he said.
Medical officials in Tyler Thursday announced the number of patients in the emergency facilities were so high that they were having to divert patients to other facilities. There have been at least two possible flu deaths in Texas.
Catholic doctrine states that the faithful can still receive a blessing from only the bread alone, according to the Holy & General Council of Trent.
“If anyone denies that in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist the whole Christ is contained under each form and under every part of each form when separated, let him be anathema,” reads Session XIII, Canon 3.