Like a lamb led to the slaughter, I was taught in the 1970's that in order to promote the novel practice of the laity drinking from the common chalice, as opposed to the then recently allowed "intinction" method, which in fact has a basis in tradition and antiquity, we were to tell reluctant laity the following:
"Because of the alcohol content of the wine, the turning of the chalice each time a person received and the wiping of the rim of the chalice with a purificator, we have been told that scientific studies show that a person is unlikely to contract a germ, virus or some communicable disease. In fact, one is more likely to get sick from shaking hands with others."
I believed those who told me about this "scientific" study and so I have taught the above diligently now for over 30 years! I never asked for the actual study. I never asked if there were other studies that had other conclusions and I never asked why we were to ask people who were actually sick with a cold or some other simple virus, not to drink from the common chalice. I was obedient. But my obedience was misplaced. I was obedient to "liturgists" who were pushing their "agenda" of renewal of the Mass. I do not have to be obedient to them or to any form of scientific study that indeed could be flawed. I must be obedient to the Church and my bishop in the areas of faith, morals, canon law, the GIRM and yes, also Sumorum Pontificum only. But church law gives priests a great deal of flexibility in things liturgical and otherwise. Pastoral sensitivity is another issue.
When my bishop mandated that the common chalice no longer be permitted two months ago because of the concern for spreading the H1N1 flu and the fear of an epidemic and when he also at the same time mandated that the sign of peace (handshake) no longer be shared at Mass, mine eyes were opened! What? You can get the flu from the common chalice? What? you can get sick from shaking someone's hand, if that hand is contaminated with a virus of some sort? You mean to tell me what I had taught for over 30 years about the laity not being able to get sick from drinking after one another was a lie at worst, or mistaken at best? Yes, this one event of my bishop forbidding two practices that I had employed and encouraged for over 30 years now opened "mine eyes" and woke me up! And what an awakening it was! I was indeed like a lamb led to the slaughter and I led other lambs and sheep in the same direction!
I have to ask now, is the Church, her liturgists, her bishops, her priests, her deacons, her catechists, legally liable in any way for giving wrong medical or scientific advice as it concerns the common chalice and the "fat chance" that you'll get sick from some sort of communicable disease by drinking after others, multiple others? Are there lawyers smacking their lips eager to sue us in this regard? No, no one would ever sue the Church! Right?
Common sense needs to reign in our Church, not ideology and liturgical innovation and naivete. Coming next, the common chalice, drinking poison, handling snakes and the like...