Statement issued Tuesday by the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend:
In a letter to his priests, Bishop John M. D'Arcy said that in light of the spread of the H1N1 virus, the administering of Holy Communion from the cup will be suspended at all parish Masses beginning the weekend of October 17 and 18, 2009 – the 29th Sunday of the year in Catholic liturgy.
This suspension applies to all parish Masses – both weekdays and Sundays – and in all parish churches.
Also, for further protection of the health of all, the greeting of peace is optional or may be given verbally or by a nod of the head.
Bishop D'Arcy cited the advice he received from priests who are vicars, or deans, in the various sections of the Diocese of Fort Wayne - South Bend and also cited the endorsement of Dr. Deborah McMahan, Health Commissioner of Allen County, who indicated that the present situation is a "pandemic" in the sense that individuals do not have the natural immunity against the H1N1 virus.
The suspension will be lifted once the situation is eased and pending proper medical advice. Bishop D'Arcy urged the priests to catechize clearly that receiving of Holy Communion under each species; that is, from the cup or the sacred host, the Church teaches that the Body and Blood of Christ is fully present.
The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1377)
The bishop said that these steps have been taken to prevent illness among our parishioners and the wider community. We are cooperating with health officials for the protection of our own health and the health of those outside the parish community, and especially our children. "We regard this," said the bishop, "as a serious responsibility."
This matter will be monitored until this health crisis has eased and the return to receiving under both species will be allowed as soon as this seems reasonably safe.