The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to the bishops of the Church of England with an update on swine flu. The information pertains specifically to England, of course, as it is based on recent consultation with the UK Department of Health. In short the Archbishops are now advising that in England the normal administration of Holy Communion ought to resume.
In congregations of our Diocese in Europe, unless there is a specific health advisory in force from local or national authorities, the Archbishops' advice should be followed and the normal practice of administration of Holy Communion in both kinds resumed where this has been suspended.
The letter from the Archbishops is below:
In July,during the first wave of the Swine Flu pandemic we issued national advice with regard to the administration of Holy Communion.
This advice was based on information and guidance received from the Department of Health which was geared to the situation at that time and the projected levels of risk suggested by the potential course of the pandemic. Since then the scientific understanding of the Swine Flu virus has advanced, further experience of the course of the epidemic has been gained, and the first stage of a vaccination programme, targeted at those most at risk from the virus, is nearing completion.
Throughout this period, our advice has been driven by the interests of public health, particularly for the protection of the vulnerable.
In the light of continuing consultation with the Department of Health, and with updated information on the course of the Swine Flu pandemic, we believe that we can now advise that the normal administration of Holy Communion ought to resume. This recommendation is subject to the guidelines issued in June (http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/swineflu/communion.doc) which set out good hygiene practice for public worship and which allows for local discretion in the event of outbreaks of pandemic flu in particular centres of population. We shall also continue to monitor the situation.
We wish to thank you for your patience and cooperation during this challenging period for both Church and Community. We are thankful that the pandemic has so far proved less severe than was feared.
Please pass this on to your colleagues in the diocese.
With every blessing,
+Rowan Cantuar +Sentamu Ebor
(The official announcement from Bishop Geoffrey and me can be found on the diocesan website.)