Thursday, August 2, 2012
DANGER OF INFECTION FROM COMMON COMMUNION CHALICES--AN UNDERESTIMATED RISK?
From a liturgical and theological point of view, I have no problem with the laity receiving the Precious Blood. I've always been in parishes since 1976 that allow it for every Mass every day.
My personal problem has more to do with hygiene, the spread of bacteria, viruses and the like.
There are also some concerns about spillage and backwash of saliva in the chalice after so many have consumed and the need to cleanse the chalices by drinking the ablutions. The thought of it disgusts me.
I believe intinction is the perfect solution and I would recommend that it be allowed for every Mass EF or OF! So there.
Liturgists who are more concerned with liturgical correctness rather than public health will cringe at the following findings and will continue their now tiresome charade of saying this isn't true.
Never mind that throughout America three years ago, the common chalice was banned during the H1N1 flu virus, the first time ever that bishops in the Church acknowledged that the common chalice could be lethal for those who approach it if contaminants of germs, bacteria and viruses are on the rim of the chalice or the mix of Precious Blood and backwash. One could actually contract a deadly flu virus! That was a monumental acknowledgment!
There is a study that concurs with my concerns and it is here:
Danger of infection from communion cups--an underestimated risk?
Zentralblatt fur Hygiene und Umweltmedizin International journal of hygiene and environmental medicine (1998)
Volume: 201, Issue: 2, Pages: 167-188
The problem of a risk of infection from the common use of chalices has been discussed controversially in literature. Opinions were mainly based on laboratory experiments and theoretical considerations. The authors examined bacterial counts and species existing under normal conditions after communion. For this purpose, contact samples were taken from the inside and outside of chalices at the rim. Staphylococci and alpha-haemolytic streptococci were found on all chalices examined. On more than 80%, there were apathogenic micrococci, nonhaemolytic streptococci, apathogenic neisseria and apathogenic corynebacteria as well as lactobacilli and bacilli. Staphylococcus aureus was found on 26.4% of chalices. Although the risk of infection for healthy persons from a commonly used chalice can be rated as low, it should not be underestimated for persons with reduced resistance and immunocompetence, or with reduced defences as a result of therapeutic measures. From the hygienic point of view, the most favourable approaches to avoid infection would be the use of individual chalices for all participants in the communion or the immersion of wafers or bread in wine or in grape juice by the priest (intinction).