From a reader…
I´m writing from Spain where sadly, a nurse is extremely ill with Ebola virus. She was infected while treating a Spanish missionary who was brought back from Africa to get treated.
My question is this: imagine she asks for the sacrament of extreme unction. [Anointing of the Sick, at the end of life, is “Extreme Unction”.] Is there a protocol or any instructions as how to proceed? Can she be refused by a priest? Can she be refused by the Government?
Right now it seems like an absurd question, but since you always say to prepare for TEOTWAWKI and we don’t know how or when it will come, it doesn’t seem like such a far off question…
And we had therefore better immediately stop the Sign of Peace! It’s far more likely to spread disease.
It is rare that one canon of the Code of Canon Law answers a question, but here we have not just one canon, but one paragraph of one canon: can. 1000 § 2:
“The minister is to anoint with his own hand, unless a grave reason indicates the use of an instrument”.
The anointing can be done with an instrument, such as a long-stemmed swab, or even, if the patient is quarantined, with those isolation glove box things. I once anointed someone in an ER by reaching in with sponge forceps.
The related question is going to be: Can a bishop forbid Communion administered on the tongue during a pandemic? We ran into this with the H1N1 scare.
I suppose a bishop can do so.
It would be petty, small, and nasty were a bishop to use the crisis of an infectious disease to push his personal ideological liturgical agenda.
I don’t buy that Communion on the tongue spreads diseases more than Communion in the hand. In general. Ebola virus is contagious, but not highly so. But it is really really horrible.
However, one of the ways that the Ebola virus is spread is through body fluids: including saliva. Yes, it is possible to transfer saliva, but rare if the priest knows what he is doing and people present themselves properly for administration of the host.
People: Please! When you want to receive Communion on the tongue, lift your chin a bit and stick your tongue out! Not just the tip of the tongue with your chin tucked against your chest. Okay? Okay?
Now that we have that out of the way, have any of you read Tom Clancy’s Executive Orders?
NUTSHELL: Iranians manage to weaponize Ebola and seek to release it in these USA.
A ripping good yarn and surely pure fiction. Pure fiction. I mean, no problems with Islamic fanatics these days.
All in all, I’d rather have a Pres. Ryan, if you get me.
But… what could go wrong?
And… pray for these poor people, those coming here and those in Africa. Ask the Archangel Michael to contain and avert this horrible plague.
Historically, in times of plague, Holy Church has held public processions. We should do so again.
I just received a note:
Hi. My heart is heavy. Our Bishop on Las Vegas is instructing the Priest’s at our Parishes to ONLY distribute Holy Communion in the hand, due to Ebola.
I know that the Church Documents, Cannon Law and even the GIRM, is clear and allows the Faithful to choose how to receive Our Lord themself. Our right is being taken away.
My Mother who is 88 was forced to receive our Lord today in her hands. The first time ever.
What is the best course of action?
I have emailed our Diocesan office, no reply yet.
If this is being done for ideological reasons, you might drop a line to the Congregation for Divine Worship. However, I am not sure there is much recourse, other than besieging the man with prayers.
But hey! Who am I to judge? Maybe with so many people travelling in and out of Las Vegas, and going to various… places, there may be an outbreak there soon.
Also, no one is forced to receive Communion.