THE Bishop of Chester is advising worshippers they can now sip wine from the chalice during communion.
Previously the Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster said it was not a good idea to share from a common cup because of the danger of spreading swine flu.
The guidance, passed down from the archbishops of Canterbury and York, followed advice from the Department of Health not to share ‘common vessels’ for food or drink.
But now Bishop Peter says on the diocesan website: “Given the moderate level of infection in North West England so far, and the generally mild symptoms of the disease itself, I have decided to modify my advice to clergy and parishes in the diocese.
“While good standards of hygiene should continue to be maintained, I would advise that it should be possible to return to the use of a common cup in the celebration of holy communion. If changing levels of infection, or professional advice, so demand I will need to revert to my previous advice.”
He said ‘particular care’ should be taken if those involved in the preparation and distribution of communion exhibit symptoms which might indicate the presence of swine flu – or any other infectious illness.
“In these circumstances the people concerned should not be involved in this way. Furthermore, anyone who has symptoms of swine flu should be encouraged to stay at home until the infection has passed. It should be made clear that those who choose to receive in one kind are entirely welcome to do so.”
Bishop Peter added: “I regret the disruption to our worship which has taken place in recent months and I very much hope that it will not be necessary to return to my earlier advice. However, we must all be vigilant if there are signs that the level of infection are rising substantially.”