Friday, May 1, 2009

Archdiocese addresses influenza concerns

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis wants to be notified immediately, along with the Minnesota Department of Health, if a student in any of its schools may be ill with swine flu, said Andy Eisenzimmer, archdiocesan chancellor for civil affairs.

That is the message being communicated by e-mail with its schools and parishes, after reports of swine influenza across the nation and in Cold Spring, in the St. Cloud diocese, which prompted the closing of Rocori Middle School and St. Boniface Catholic School. The positive diagnosis for the person in Cold Spring who is recovering and was not hospitalized was confirmed April 20.

However, liturgical guidelines will not change at this time.

Father John Paul Erickson, Worship Office director, said that a memo is to go out April 30 or May 1 to pastors and parish administrators, informing them that there does not seem to be any need for diocesan-wide regulations about the liturgy.

“There is no need to tell pastors not to distribute both species or to ask that the sign of peace not be given,” Father Erickson said. “This is, in essence, the stance currently of the [United States Conference of Catholic Bishops], which currently does not feel it is necessary to issue norms for the whole United States. They’ve put it in the hands of the local bishops.”

The archdiocese will include a reminder for pastors, individuals and whole communities that they need to continue to “exercise discretion and to be extra sensitive to hygiene,” he said. “Certainly, it’s important for pastors and for extraordinary ministers of holy Communion, that they are washing their hands before engaging in this ministry,” Father Erickson said. Sacristans also need to be “very attentive” when they are washing vessels after they have been purified. And anyone who is feeling ill, should not attend Mass. . . . The Catholic Spirit

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