As states around the country begin to ease stay-at-home orders, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said churches should adopt “common sense” measures to protect worshippers and the wider community, like requiring masks, practicing social distancing and prohibiting singing.
Regarding the distribution of Communion, he said, “I think for the time being, you just gotta forestall that.”
In an interview with America on May 26, Dr. Fauci said churches in places experiencing a sustained decline in coronavirus cases can slowly take steps to reopen safely by following public health guidelines, including those released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Fauci serves on the White House’s coronavirus task force….
Asked if he thinks Communion can be distributed safely, Dr. Fauci said “no,” especially in areas still getting the virus under control. Last week, researchers said that in 24 states, especially in the South and Midwest, the coronavirus is still spreading at an epidemic rate. Dr. Fauci expressed concern not only about a shared cup for consecrated wine but also about distribution of hosts, and he suggested waiting until the outbreak is more controlled before reintroducing Communion.
“It depends on where you are,” he said. “If you are in a region, a city, a county, where there is a significant amount of infection, I think with distributing Communion, I think that would be risky. I’m telling you that as a Catholic, it would be risky.”
He said the interaction between the priest and multiple people receiving Communion makes distribution unsafe.
“As many times as a priest can wash his hands, he gets to Communion, he puts it in somebody’s hand, they put it in their mouth…it’s that kind of close interaction that you don’t want when you’re in the middle of a deadly outbreak,” he said.
A graduate of two Jesuit schools, Regis High School in New York and the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., Dr. Fauci said his parents taught him the importance of service, lessons that were fortified by the Jesuits. In particular, he said Regis and Holy Cross taught him to appreciate the importance of “knowledge, facts, evidence, intellectual pursuit and intellectual honesty.”
Describing himself as a Catholic, Dr. Fauci said the values he learned from the Jesuits continue to guide him. “I identify more, much more, with that than the concept of organized churches, religions,” he said….
The above comes from a May 27 story in America magazine.