What do the Chevy Corvair and the Common Communion Chalice have in common? Both are unsafe at any speed and any Mass!
Ralph Nader, published in 1965, is a book accusing car manufacturers of resistance to the introduction of safety features, like seat belts, and their general reluctance to spend money on improving safety. It was a pioneering work, openly polemical but containing substantial references and material from industry insiders.
The subject for which the book is probably most widely known, the rear-engined Chevrolet Corvair, is covered in Chapter 1—"The Sporty Corvair-The One-Car Accident".
My Ralph Nader Comments: Just this morning, the news reported that many states in the USA are experiencing the H3N2 Flu epidemic and it is more serious than the H1N2 Flu of a few years ago. Georgia right now is a hot zone for it. Nationwide almost 15 children have died. There are no statistics yet on elderly people who have died of the flu and others with compromised immune systems and other health related issues.
When the H1N2 flu was merely threatening many communities, most bishops throughout the USA including then Bishop Kevin Boland of the Savannah Diocese mandated that the common chalice no longer be given to the laity while the epidemic was a possibility. He also mandated that the "sign of peace" cease at all Masses too and that hand sanitizer be available at the doors of the Church and in the sanctuary for EMHC's to use prior to distributing the Host.
This was the first time that the bishops of the USA acknowledged that the common chalice for the laity could spread a communicable disease such as the flu. Obviously if this is true it can also spread other viruses and diseases, the most worrisome the deadly meningitis virus that can be spread especially to college age kids after drinking after someone else on the same glass, can or chalice.
A couple of months ago when the flu was starting to hit our schools, I requested permission from our current Bishop Gregory Hartmayer to discontinue the use of the common chalice. He gave me permission.
I really wonder if the liturgical custom of having upwards to 30 people drinking from the common chalice is a custom that should continue in the Church now that it is known that it is unsanitary and can cause people with compromised immune systems to become ill from a virus left on the chalice and in the case of the flu or meningitis, it could cause death at any time of the year, not just flu season!
We all know that city and county health departments would not condone the Catholic practice of having a great number or any number of communicants drinking from a common chalice. If we were a restaurant, our food and drink license would be revoked for doing so!
I ask the lawyers out there. If in fact communicable diseases can be "caught" from drinking from a communal chalice during Mass, does this open dioceses up to lawsuits especially now that bishops have acknowledged publicly for the first time that the flu can be caught from drinking from the common chalice?