From a reader…
Are disposable nitrile gloves acceptable of a Priest distributing the Eucharist? Nitrile gloves are proven to help prevent the spread of pathogens.
Yes, this can be done. Should it be done is another thing.
Holy Communion can be delivered by means of an inanimate object, such as a tweezers or forceps or tube. I don’t see a problem with a nitrile glove, other than aesthetics.
Perhaps the color of the day would help? Blue gloves… hmmm.
It is easy to purify metal objects, but less easy to purify the gloves. They could be put into water, to dissolve particles of the Host, and then eventually burned.
This brings in several points. Would the people receiving, and receiving in the hand (blech), wear nitrile gloves? What would that look like (other than increased risk of profanation of the Eucharist… as every Communion in the hand obviously is)?
I suppose that the gloves would have to be immediately stripped off, dropped into water for a bit, the water drained into the sacrarium or onto the ground, and then the gloves burned. Would there now have to be a Minister of the Glove Bucket?
Of course if tongs can be used, why use the gloves?
I wonder if it would get to this point.
In a case where the disease is that dangerous and easily transmitted, I suspect you won’t have many people in church for Masses. Some will want to pray, naturally, and have Mass.
The more urgent question is the procedure for the priest giving last rites including Viaticum. In that case, Fathers, yes, you can use a nitrile glove or a tong or a metal fistula or straw or an eyedropper to give Communion. Also, it is possible to anoint using a tweezers or forceps to avoid contact or also simply to reach a person. I had to do that once in a hospital.
It is an interesting question and I am glad that it came up.
We need questions and information to help us game things out in our heads, which ought to be a constant, commonsense, practice of situational awareness.