In response to a request from the House of Bishops (February 1988), the Primate reported he had invited Mrs. P. Creighton, Mrs. D. Marshall and Dr. J. Reed to form a Task Force to prepare a contemporary statement regarding abortion.
It was agreed that we, as Christians, must work towards the creation of a society in which every human being is welcome and recognized that we must both work for change of legislation which affects social programming.
Chancellor David Wright stated that difficulties outside the Criminal Code fall within the jurisdiction of the provinces and the federal government can enter the field only through the Criminal Code, but can control processes through funding.
That this National Executive Council:
1. express its heartfelt thanks to the members of the Task Force on Abortion;
2. endorses the report of the Task Force;
3. refers the report to the Primate for appropriate action. CARRIED #65-05-88
It was agreed that the Primate should send the report to appropriate people in the life of the church and the country.
The Primate, on behalf of the NEC, expressed thanks to Mrs. Creighton, Mrs. Marshall and Dr. Reed for their report.
Toronto hospitals are performing abortions "without restriction," according to a prominent official of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Rev. Arthur Brown, rector of a large Toronto parish and a member of the National Executive Council of General Synod made the charge in connection with deliberations on a forthcoming report by a Task Force on Human Life.
The report is not expected to be completed until the end of 1973 and Father Brown said he and other pastors are impatiently awaiting it for guidance on new and complex moral situations.
He told bishops and other delegates from across Canada to the executive council that "all kinds of girls are going through our hospitals in metropolitan Toronto being aborted of pregnancies." His information, he said, comes from nurses and other hospital staff.
Father Brown claimed that staffs in some Toronto hospitals are aborting without restriction "under the guise of it being good for the total health of the mother."
Five years ago, he said, one Toronto hospital listed 28 abortions. Last year, the number was over 300, "ten times as many, or more."
He said "doctors are compromised by the destruction of human life" in this abortion situation. On becoming doctors, he said, they swear an oath to preserve life but due to the present situation "they are placed in a major compromised situation."
Father Brown said nursing staffs are upset over having to clean up after induced miscarriages and they come to him for guidance.
Archbishop E.W. Scott, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada expressed deep sympathy towards the position described by Father Brown but said the task force's report will take another year due to the complexities of the issues involved.
"It's becoming obvious that people are feeling a need for help in making decisions in these areas," Archbishop Scott said.
"Each case has to be evaluated in terms of the health of the mother and the possible health of the child, and not only on the question of the sanctity of life but also in the area of the quality of life."
Archbishop Scott emphasized that hospital boards deciding abortion cases should include persons representing moral issues as well as medical issues.
Besides abortion, the task force is studying the whole concept of when life begins and ends in relation to euthanasia, transplants, biological engineering and the vast implications of discoveries in biochemistry. Archbishop Scott said the study has become increasingly complex as it delves into the legal, medical, moral and social aspects of life. The task force is composed of lawyers, doctors, research scientists, housewives, social workers, theologians and others. It is also consulting with similarly concerned groups in the United States, Britain and other parts of the world.
A progress report will be presented to the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada at its biennial meeting next May in Regina.
That the National Executive Council request the Executive Director of Program together with appropriate staff and other local resources:
1. To catalogue the Church's present response to AIDS especially in relation to:
- a) educational material which builds awareness and equips clergy and laity in ministering to the victims and families with AIDS;
- b) ethical material which addresses human sexuality and suggests responsible behaviour for those of high risk and those who may not be of high risk;
- c) practical guidance to Canadians visiting overseas with available safeguards; to equip our PIM representatives with messages of support to assist the overseas churches facing a heightened crisis, such as the provision of sterilized medical supplies.
2. To indicate to our partner churches who are concerned that we wish to stand with them in facing this common crisis.
3. To enquire of appropriate committees and groups including and not restricted to:
- Medical/Doctrinal Sub-Committee of the Doctrine and Worship Committee of the Doctrine and Worship Committee
- Human Rights Unit
- House of Bishops
- Youth Unit
- Marriage and Related Matters
- Committee on Ministry
- Partners in World Mission Committee
- Primate's World Relief and Development Fund
as to what further initiatives they plan to undertake. CARRIED #42-10-87
That the Primate, in consultation with the House of Bishops, call a national Day of Prayer on behalf of persons living with AIDS and those ministering to them. The motion was then put and - CARRIED Act 114
That Dr. Gould's paper on AIDS be circulated to the members of the National Executive Council. CARRIED #61-05-87
[Paper entitled "Eucharistic Practice and the Risk of Infection" by Dr. David H. Gould was submitted to the Doctrine and Worship Committee in April 1987. Copy of paper can be found in OTCH Vertical File "Common cup". Also published as "Resources for Liturgy" No. 12 in January 1988.]
[A new edition of this paper was produced in May 2000 by the Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee at the request of the House of Bishops meeting of 25-29 October 1999 which noted (not in the form of a resolution) on page 20 of those Minutes: "Eucharistic Practice and the Risk of Infection: Bishop Hiltz reminded the House that at its meeting in May 1999, it had reviewed and commented on the paper `Eucharistic Practice and the Risk of Infection' by Dr. David Gould. Those comments were passed on to Dr. Gould by the Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee (FWMC). Dr. Gould had since made some changes to his paper which was distributed to the House of Bishops. Bishop Hiltz, as the episcopal representative on the FWMC, reviewed the revised paper with the House. Bishop Hiltz said the paper will be put into a Ministry Mailer saying it would allow time for the members to do what they'd like with respect to communications within their dioceses about the use of the common cup. Comments on the paper were invited from the floor. There was a concern expressed about the use of actuarial tables in Dr. Gould's pamphlet. The concern was about whether or not we might be opening ourselves to legal liability ? Bishop Hiltz was asked to have a conversation with Dr. Gould about the reference to actuarial tables in the pamphlet before it is mailed out. Another comment was about the reference to AIDS being a possible disease one might get from using a common cup. In fact, the commentator observed, the person most at risk, is the individual with AIDS."]
[Text of 2000 edition of paper as follows [see also http://www.anglican.ca/faith/ministry/euc-practice-infection.htm] :
Eucharistic practice and the risk of infection
By David H. Gould, BA, MD, CM, FRCPC, FICA, A.Th.
With the discovery of AIDS a number of fears have arisen regarding the risk of the infection being spread by the use of the "common cup" at the Eucharist. This in turn has led to a re-examination of Eucharistic practices and their potential for transmission of infection. This is not the first instance of such a concern being raised. The influenza epidemic in 1917 raised similar concerns, and the controversy has surfaced periodically since the sixteenth century.
Transmission of infection
At the outset, it is important to recognize that there are a number of general principles that govern the transmission of infection. In no case can exposure to a single virus or bacterium result in infection. For each disease there is a minimum number of the agent (generally in the millions) that must be transmitted from person to person before infection can occur. Our defenses against stray bacteria are immense and can only be overwhelmed by very large numbers of the infective agents. Each infective agent has its own virulence, and each individual has his/her own "host factors" which determine that person's susceptibility to infection. The interaction of the two determines the risk of infection for the individual.
It is important to note that the breakdown of all AIDS cases in the USA by risk groups has not significantly changed since the illness was first described, showing that the disease has very limited modes of spread. Not a single family member of a person with AIDS has contacted the disease, even though occasional sharing of drinking cups, eating utensils and on occasion, toothbrushes has occurred.
Despite there now being many millions of cases of AIDS reported throughout the world, there remains no evidence of transmission by saliva, let alone any evidence of transmission by using common drinking utensils. (1) Furthermore, experimental evidence shows that wiping the chalice with the purificator reduces the bacterial count by 90 % (2).
It should also be pointed out that the AIDS virus is destroyed by exposure to air, soap, and virtually any disinfectant (including alcohol) and therefore that normal cleaning procedures if performed carefully ensure protection. This should be remembered not only in the context of the Eucharist, but also in reference to those who minister to AIDS patients (3).
In an atmosphere increasingly dominated by litigation, no one in the medical profession is going to give any absolute reassurance even when scientific data indicates that strong reassurances can be provided.
The present use of the common cup is normative for Anglican churches, and poses no real hazard to health in normal circumstances.
It must be admitted that it is difficult to be as reassuring in regards to the use of the common cup in the case of other infectious agents as [it] is in the case of AIDS. But in the case of Hepatitis B virus -- also of concern to health care workers because it too has been isolated from saliva of persons with hepatitis -- it is possible to be reassuring. There is no evidence of any transmission by the oral administration of hepatitis-positive saliva. (4) The same is equally true of bacterial Meningitis.
What is the risk ?
Were there any significant risk to the eucharistic practices of the Anglican church for so many centuries it would seem likely that the evidence would reflect an increased risk for Anglican priests, who have been performing the ablutions for centuries. In fact the opposite is true. Nor do priests appear to have been regularly stricken with any communicable disease that could be traced to the chalice in all that time. Additionally, no episode of disease attributable to the common cup has ever been reported (5) (6). Thus for the average communicant it would seem that the risk of drinking from the common cup is probably less than the risk of air-borne infection in using a common building (7).
Were there any significant risk to the eucharistic practices of the Anglican church for so many centuries it would seem likely that insurance actuarial tables would reflect an increased risk for Anglican priests, who have been performing the ablutions for centuries. In fact the opposite is true.
Nevertheless, eucharistic ministers should be instructed in the proper way to wipe the chalice between communicants. Some procedures that are helpful include: (1) wiping the chalice on the inside of the rim as well as on the outside, (2) opening the purificator to its full size so that a clean part of the purificator is used for each communicant (it may be necessary for the minister to use more than one purificator) and (3) wiping the chalice so that the next communicant does not drink out of the same place on the cup. Similarly, chalices should be washed with soap and water following each Eucharistic liturgy.
It must be pointed out that while the relative risk is low, it is not impossible that infection could be transmitted. This is particularly true of communicants with low resistance to infection, i.e. cancer patients on immunosuppressant therapy, and persons with AIDS. Further examination of alternate Eucharistic practices is therefore warranted.
Intinction (dipping the bread in the wine) is in use in many Episcopal Church parishes and is increasingly being suggested in Canadian Churches as well. There is, however, real concern that many of the modes of intinction used in parishes do not diminish the threat of infection, and some may actually increase it. Hands, children's and adult's, are at least as likely to be a source of infection (often more so) as lips. Retention of the wafer in the hand of the recipient then intincting it means that the wafer, now contaminated by the hand of the recipient, is placed in the wine thus spreading the infection to it. The use of an intinction chalice would make no difference in this instance.
If a priest retains the wafer, intincts it, and places it on the tongue of the communicant there is the possibility of his/her hand coming in contact with the tongue, and thereafter spreading the contamination. Meticulous technique would avoid this however, and it would seem better to trust in the technique of one individual (the priest) than in the individual techniques of the communicants should they do the intinction themselves. Therefore, this is the only method of intinction permitted in Roman Catholic parishes. (8) A separate chalice used only for intinction by the priest would be effective in this instance. For parishes using communion "stations", the priest might intinct wafers at one, while others administer the elements in the customary fashion at another.
Hands are at least as likely to be a source of infection (often more so) as are lips.
A further consideration with the practice of intinction is that is is only feasible when wafers are used. More and more churches are starting to recognize the sacramental value of the one loaf of bread that is then divided for distribution. Intinction would not be a tenable option in these circumstances.
Indeed from the foregoing it seems obvious that another risk of infection occurs when the priest breaks the bread should his/her hands be contaminated. The ritual of the washing of the priest's hands at the offertory is therefore more than symbolic. It has been suggested that the lavabo basin be large, contain some liquid soap in addition to an adequate quantity of water, and that a proper towel be provided so that a more thorough hand washing can occur. A 30-second hand wash will eliminate 95 % of all bacteria. Any other administrants of the bread should also be included, and altar guild members and others who handle wafers in preparation for the Eucharist should take similar precautions.
When communicating the ill in hospital many of these considerations would not apply. Wafers would ordinarily be used, and where the illness is infectious the patient would be communicated last using intinction by the priest (as per the BCP rubric, p. 583). Conversely, when the ill person is debilitated or otherwise susceptible to infection, normal prudence would dictate that he/she receives first.
Communion in only one kind (the bread) is the best option for those fearful of the cup.
Therefore it would seem that communion in only one kind (the bread) is the best option for those fearful of the cup -- both from the standpoint of preventing the spread of infection, and from the theological perspective. Nor should there be any discouragement directed to those who choose to do so. In fact, the priest should periodically instruct people "If you have the 'flu, a cold, or a cold sore, please don't drink from the cup or dip the wafer into it". This should be done either through the bulletin or verbally at regular intervals. An action, which might be suggested for communicants receiving the bread only, is to take or touch the base of the chalice as they normally would, but simply not sip from it. The words of administration should be used, even when wine is not consumed. Some communicants might prefer to cross their hands over their chest as a sign to pass them by.
It must be stressed however that the present use of the common cup is normative for Anglican churches, follows the practice of the universal church from its beginnings until well into the middle ages, and poses no real hazard to health in normal circumstances.
1. CDC: Recommendations for preventing transmission of infection with human T-lymphotropic virus type III/lymphadenopathy-associated virus in the workplace NWMR 1985; 34 (Nov 13): 681-695.
2. B.C. Hobbs, J.A. Knowldon & A. White. "Experiments on the Communion Cup". Journal of Hygiene, Vol. 65 (1967): 37-48.
3. Some have trusted in the fact that the silver or gold in chalices has a weak antiseptic quality, however studies have shown that the effect is too minor to significantly reduce bacterial counts in the wine. Similarly, the concentration of alcohol in wine used at communion has an inadequate antiseptic effect.
4. Glaser & Nadler, Archives of Internal Medicine Vol. 145: 1653, 1985.
5. O. Noel Gill. "The Hazard of Infection from the Shared Communion Cup" [Review]. Journal of Infection, Vol. 16, No 1 (January 1988): 3-23.
6. Anne LaGrange Loving. "Holy Communion and Health -- is there a Risk ?" Journal of Environmental Health, July-August 1997.
7. Bishop of Huron, Report to the Primate and House of Bishops regarding Cross Contamination via the Common Cup. (a report on proceedings of a multidisciplinary consultation in the Diocese of Huron).
8. CCCB Paper "Communion From the Cup": 1996.
9. See the rubrics to the Communion of the Sick. BCP page 584. This doctrine is to be traced to the Patristic period and St. Augustine's words, Crede et manducasti, `Believe and thou hast eaten' (In Joann. xxv. 22).
Caring for the well-being of communicants
- Wash hands before handling wafers or bread for the Eucharist.
- Wash the chalice in soap and water after the Eucharist.
- Advise communicants not to intinct if they have any infection.
- Eucharistic Assistants should wipe inside and outside the rim and rotate the chalice between communicants.
- For those at special risk, the use of the bread alone is safest.
Mississauga, May 13, 1988 -- The Anglican Church will today [EDITOR: Friday] attempt to define a third choice in the debate on therapeutic abortion.
A task force report to be delivered to the church's national executive council meeting here this afternoon, says: "Too often the abortion debate is couched in terms of a woman's right over her own body as against a foetus's right to life." It suggests the issue may be addressed from a new perspective in which neither the mother nor the foetus is required to serve as "victim."
"Christians hold a spectrum of personal views about the morality of abortion, from utter rejection of it to conviction that it is a personal ethical matter for a woman."
Either approach, the report suggests, is one-sided: either it ignores the cry of the unborn while trying to raise the status of women; or it remains indifferent to the plight of women while trying to protect the unborn.
The task force was convened in March to consider the Anglican Church's stance on abortion in light of the Supreme Court's decision in the Morgentaler case. That decision declared the provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with abortions to be unconstitutional. The church had previously expressed its support for the law.
The 15-page report recommends that the church continue to oppose unregulated access to abortion. The church, it says, sees abortion as "always a tragedy fraught with moral ambiguity...To resort to abortion lightly or casually is to degrade our humanity, to deny the responsibility and responsiveness of human nature."
SEEKING "TRUE" CHOICE
The report spends its greatest energy addressing the circumstances in which women "choose" abortion. In many cases, it says, the choice is hollow: When women choose to abort, it is frequently in coercive, lonely and grief-stricken circumstances where they feel completely unable to bear their child. Often the biggest problem facing the woman is her lack of a real social and economic support system. Many women who choose not to bear their children, then, make their decision out of alienation and hopelessness.
"For us as Christians, such despair cannot be left as the motive force...True choice must involve alternatives to despair."
The report says new legislation to regulate abortion should "establish procedures to make abortion available equitably across the country as a therapeutic measure for women whose pregnancies endanger their life or their physical or mental health." It says counselling should be required.
The report rejects the concept of legislating easy access to early abortion and more restricted access later in the term (after 12 weeks for example): "Abortion is always the taking of a human life and, in our view, should never be done except for serious therapeutic reasons. Any such line is arbitrary and seems to argue that the value of the foetus and the seriousness of abortion in the early stages will be discounted."
ABORTION OR POVERTY TOO OFTEN ONLY CHOICE
Noting that many women have a choice of aborting a foetus or bearing a child to live in poverty, the report urges an extensive program of social action to reduce conditions which make the choice of abortion more likely. It stresses the need for:
* more affordable housing;
* pay equity for women;
* a guaranteed annual income, and other financial measures "to secure the dignity -- indeed the survival -- of mothers and children;"
Halifax, October 21 -- The Anglican Church of Canada has directed its national staff to begin developing a coordinated response to AIDS, including educational, ethical and medical concerns. The Church's National Executive Council, meeting in Halifax, asked its staff to examine the church's response to AIDS in relations to "educational material which builds awareness and equips clergy and laity in ministering to the victims and families with AIDS."
The Church will also seek to address the AIDS crisis globally through working with its partner churches around the world.
Earlier this year, the bishops of Toronto had received a study document on AIDS which noted that the relationship between AIDS and homosexuality poses a special challenge to the church: "Homophobia ia a more widespread disease than AIDS but possibly more deadly spiritually," it notes.
"Fear cuts both ways. Church people don't want to accept gays, and gays and thus people with AIDS are afraid to tell the church they have AIDS (or that they are gay). This combines to help keep the situation hidden in the church context." The study document was prepared by the Downtown Churchworkers' Association, an organization concerned with issues of urban ministry. The bishops of Toronto forwarded the study document to the National Executive Council of the church for its information.
Although many voices within the Anglican Church have called for greater pastoral care to AIDS victims and their families, the issue became more personal recently when a young man who had been very active in the Anglican Youth Movement died of AIDS.
MEECH LAKE OPPOSED
In other business, the Council opposed the Meech Lake Accord on the grounds that it limits or infringes the rights of native people, women, and Canadians living in the northern Territories.
The Council adopted a resolution which says the Accord denies the rights of the Northwest Territories and Yukon to participate fully in Canadian political and public life.
The National Executive Council concludes its three-day meeting here today. The meeting was held in Halifax to coincide with a celebration of the bicentennial of the first Anglican bishop in Canada, Charles Inglis. A worship service Sunday in Halifax's Metro Center attracted more than 8,000 people. --30--
For further information, contact: David Woeller, General Secretary, or Clarke Raymond, Executive Director of Program, The Anglican Church of Canada 600 Jarvis Street Toronto, ON M4Y 2J6 (416) 924-9192
Dr. David Gould expressed appreciation for the invitation to address the House. He said that the Doctrine and Worship Committee asked him to give some thought to ministering to patients with AIDS. His paper "Eucharistic Practice and the Risk of Infection" was made available to all the Bishops.
Dr. Gould spoke of the risk of infection through the use of the common cup and other practices such as intinction in Holy Communion. He said that the likelihood of contracting AIDS through the use of the common cup is remote enough to be consider impossible.
Bishop D. Jones reported that there have been instances in the Dioceses of Huron where people have absented themselves from the Eucharist because they fear the catching of infectious diseases.
It was stressed that, up until now, scientific evidence indicates that there has never been a case of a major disease being transmitted by the common cup.
That we affirm the continued use of the Common Cup in the light of the medical evidence which we have received to this point. CARRIED
EUCHARISTIC PRACTICE AND THE RISK OF INFECTION
(Submitted to Doctrine and Worship Committee -- April 1987)
David H. Gould, M.D., ATh.
The Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a new disease entity which was first recognized in the United States in 1981. In Canada, the first case was diagnosed in 1982, and since that time 685 cases have been reported to the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control in Ottawa. (1)
Within the past 2 1/2 years the virus responsible for the destruction of the immune system has been identified. This virus, called Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Virus Type III (HTLV-III) may cause the disease on its own, or may require additional co-factors which have not yet been identified. Once the virus had been found it was then discovered that it could be cultured from lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) found in the saliva of some AIDS patients, as well as from other body fluids.
With this discovery a number of fears arose regarding the risk of infection being spread by the use of the "common cup" at the Eucharist. This in turn has led to a re-examination of Eucharistic practices and their potential for transmission of infection.
At the outset, it is important to recognize that there are a number of general principles which govern the transmission of infection. In no case can exposure to a single virus or bacterium result in infection. For each disease there is a minimum number of the agents (generally in the millions) which must be transmitted from person to person before infection can occur. Our defenses against stray bacteria are immense and can only be overwhelmed by very large numbers of the infective agents. Each infective agent has its own virulence, and each individual has his/her own "host factors" which determine that person's susceptibility to infection. The interaction of the two determine the risk of infection for the individual.
Six years of experience with AIDS has served to confirm the fact that the HTLV-III virus is of low infectivity. There are only three modes of transmission of the AIDS virus which have been identified.
1. Sexual transmission
2. Blood or Blood products
3. Perinatal transmission
The transmission of AIDS by blood and blood products is no longer a major concern, since all donated blood is now being tested for antibodies to the AIDS virus. These tests have been refined to the point where they are 99.9+-% reliable. In addition to the screening, all blood concentrates used for Hemophiliacs are heat-treated which inactivates the virus.
Perinatal transmission is essentially a form of blood transmission, occurring either at the time of delivery or crossing the placenta earlier.
There is no evidence that the AIDS virus has been transmitted by any other route, such as saliva or tears. In one case transmission by breast milk has been implicated.
As indicated above, there are now tests for AIDS antibodies. Their presence indicates only that the individual has been infected by the virus, not that he has the disease, or indeed will ever develop it. In this case an analogy can be made to the TB skin test -- a positive test means that exposure to the agent has occurred -- not that the disease is present. The present evidence suggests that 90 % of those who react positively to the test (i.e. have antibodies to the HTLV-III virus) do not have the disease and most may never get it.
Within 1 to 3 months after exposure to the virus the tests for the antibodies will become positive. If the individual is going to develop the disease, symptoms will appear within 2 to 5 years. Thus it is important to note that the breakdown of over 15,000 AIDS cases in the USA by risk groups has not significantly changed since the illness was first described, showing that the disease has very limited modes of spread. No single family member of an AIDS victim has contracted the disease, even though occasional sharing of drinking cups, eating utensils and on occasion, toothbrushes has occurred.
The low infectivity of AIDS was shown in a study of 1758 health care workers with a wide variety of intensive exposures to AIDS patients, including persons working solely on AIDS units, persons inadvertently exposed to contaminated blood or body fluid at the time of surgical or other invasive procedures, several hundred persons accidentally punctured with needles drawn out of the arms of persons with AIDS, and persons otherwise intensively exposed to the HTLV-III virus. Twenty-six (1.4 %) of these 1758 health care workers have become seropositive (i.e. show antibodies to the virus). Interestingly, 23 of these 26 persons have admitted to being homosexuals. (2)
In 1986, in an atmosphere increasingly dominated by litigation, no one in the medical profession is going to give any absolute reassurance even when scientific data indicates that strong reassurance can be provided. Thus this writer cannot absolutely guarantee that one cannot acquire HTLV-III infection via the cup -- he can only cite the evidence above.
It should also be pointed out that the HTLV-III virus is destroyed by exposure to air, soap, and virtually any disinfectant (including alcohol) and therefore that normal cleaning procedures if performed carefully ensure protection. This should be remembered not only in the context of the eucharist, but also in reference to those who minister to AIDS patients.
In this regard the recent statements of the Bishop of Edinburgh, the Rt. Rev. Richard Holloway are relevant. "... in the last analysis we must care for the victims. It is, after all, our business". Christians have always been called to care for outcasts, he goes on; and while he acknowledges that society has not yet abandoned AIDS victims he feels that attitudes will harden. It will be the business of Christians to resist the calls for the quarantining of AIDS carriers, and he has no doubt that they will do so. He expects that the epidemic will claim its martyrs before it is over, "but that also is our business. We know about dying. We take over where everything else finishes because we are always on the margins. We endure `as seeing him who is invisible'."
The Bishop also warns that Christians will be spending an increasing amount of time helping the young to die with trust and without anger. "It'll be a better use of our time than many of our trivial pursuits," he comments, "and it help to call us back to the heart of the gospel -- the offer of eternal life".
It must be admitted that it is difficult to be as reassuring in regards to the use of the common cup in the case of other infectious agents such as is the case with AIDS. In the case of Hepatitis B virus -- also of concern to health care workers because it too has been isolated from saliva of victims -- it is possible to be reassuring. There is no evidence of any transmission by the oral administration of hepatitis-positive saliva. (4 sic i.e. 3)
Were there any significant risk to the eucharistic practices of the Anglican church for so many centuries it would seem likely that Insurance Actuary Tables would reflect an increased risk for Anglican Priests, who have been performing the ablutions for centuries. In fact the opposite is true. Nor do Priests appear to have been regularly stricken with any communicable disease that could be traced to the chalice in all that time.
Thus for the average communicant it would seem that the risk of drinking from the common cup is probably less than the risk of air-bourne infection in using a common building. (4)
It must be pointed out that while the relative risk is low, it is not impossible that infection could be transmitted. In particular is this true of communicants with low resistance to infection, cancer patients on immunosuppressant therapy, and AIDS victims. Further examination of alternate Eucharistic practices is therefore warranted.
Intinction is in use in many Episcopal Church parishes and is increasingly being suggested in Canadian Churches as well. A serious difficulty with intinction however is that it basically undermines the character of the sacrament. If the sign of participation in the sacramental meal is eating and drinking as per our Lord's words of institution, then intinction confuses that sign in that dunking is neither eating nor drinking.
There is also real concern that many of the modes of intinction used in parishes do not diminish the threat of infection. Retention of the wafer in the hand of the recipient then intincting it merely means that the wafer becomes contaminated by the hand of the recipient and that a contaminated wafer is then placed in the wine -- spreading the infection to it. Hands are equally as likely to be a source of infection as are lips. If a priest retains the wafer, intincts it and places it on the tongue of the communicant there is the possibility of his hand coming in contact with the tongue, and thereafter spreading the contamination. Meticulous technique would avoid this and it would seem better to trust in the technique of one individual (the priest) than in the individual techniques of the communicants should they do the intinction themselves. Obviously a separate chalice used only for intinction would be required unless all communicants are to receive by this method.
A further consideration with the practice of intinction is that it is only feasible when wafers are used. More and more churches are starting to recognize the sacramental value of the one loaf of bread which is then divided for distribution. Intinction would not be an esthetically tenable option, in these circumstances.
When communicating the ill in hospital many of these considerations would not apply. Wafers would ordinarily be used, and where the illness is infectious the patient would be communicated last using intinction by the priest. Conversely, when the ill person is debilitated or otherwise susceptible to infection, normal prudence would dictate that he/she receive first.
The other option for eucharistic practice which should be examined is communication in one kind only. While Anglicans have asserted since the Reformation that reception under the species of both bread and wine is normative for our church, it must be recognized that many would find themselves able to accept the doctrine of Concomitance -- the doctrine that either part of the Sacrament by itself mediates the whole and entire Christ. Inasmuch as the living Christ is received in Communion and the blood is inseparable from the living flesh it seems difficult to believe that the Body and Blood of Christ can be separately received. Although the doctrine was promulgated in the thirteenth century, it would appear to have been accepted in the primitive church particularly in the case of communication of the dying and of infants. Some evangelical Anglicans may have difficulty with this doctrine, but it would seem that for the majority of Anglicans this represents both the safest, most esthetic, and sacramentally most sound of the alternate modes of administration of the elements.
It must be stressed, however, that the present use of the common cup is normative for Anglican churches, follows the practice of the universal church from its beginnings until well into the middle ages, and poses no real hazard to health in normal circumstances.
(1) As of 2 September 1986
(2) CDC: Recommendations for preventing transmission of infection with human T-lymphotropic virus type III/lymphadenopathy associated virus in the workplace. MMWR 1985: 34 (Nov 13): 691-695
(3) Glaser & Nadler, Archives of Internal Medicine Vol 145: 1653, 1985.
(4) Bishop of Huron, Report to the Primate and House of Bishops regarding Cross Contamination via the Common Cup (a report on proceedings of a multidisciplinary consultation in the Diocese of Huron)
Discussion took place about the re-examination of the statement on the common cup (this was due to a concern expressed because of the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), hepatitis "B" in society today).
Some members suggested that a new statement would risk sending an unintentioned message to the constituency. It was agreed that TB is of growing concern and would warrant a re-investigation about the tradition of the common cup. However, AIDS is not (a concern), and any new statement would have to be clear about the distinction. It was agreed that the national Doctrine and Worship Committee together with the library would be requested to prepare a summary of contemporary material for the House of Bishops for its consideration.
That the Doctrine and Worship Committee draft a summary of recent literature regarding the use of the Common Cup and report back to the House of Bishops. CARRIED