No wine for communion? – Swine flu

The Catholic church is being particularly careful about Swine Flu.

Specifically, the bishops have requested that receiving Communion on the tongue, Communion wine from the chalice and shaking hands at the sign of peace at Masses in New Zealand cease.

Now that sounds reasonable. However the television news has been giving the impression that the communion wine is being withdrawn completely (it is generally served from a single cup in Catholic churches).

Holy Communion is the only ritual the Christian Church has. It is how Christ himself commanded we were to remember His death, and is not something anyone has a right to remove either element from. It is celebrated by all denominations, with some variations in style, but the essential elements (the body and the blood) are always there.

I don’t trust the news to report such issues accurately, so could a Catholic reader please confirm whether the wine is actually being withdrawn, or being offered in individual cups (as many Protestant churches already do)?

Offering in individual cups would be a sensible precaution. But no church has the right to entirely remove what Christ has established.I hope no church will put convenience and fear before remembering Christ.

UPDATE: According to ZenTiger and Lucyna Maria (see the comments here), the wine is being withdrawn, at least in their churches. Utterly disgraceful.

You may be interested in:
Swine Flu Myths (by MacDoctor – keep an eye on MacDoctor for good info on swine flu from a medical perspective).
Swine flu – false alarm? (New Zealand Conservative)

Vatican hosting conference on Evolution

Ok, I’m not officially here, but I couldn’t let this one pass! I had gained the impression that Pope Benedict was more conservative than his predecessor (who stated evolution was “more than just a theory”), but this throws that idea out the window.

I would have no problem with the Vatican hosting a conference that was genuinely “A critical appraisal” of Darwinism, looking at it from both perspectives and discussing the science behind it and how it relates to Christianity. But that is not how they are approaching the issue. From the Vatican News Service:

Saverio Forastiero:

“…biological evolution – which is assumed and discussed as a fact beyond all reasonable doubt…”

Fr. Tanzella-Nitti:

“…from the perspective of Christian theology, biological evolution and creation are by no means mutually exclusive.”

Now the idea that evolution and creation are not mutually exclusive is a valid opinion to hold. But when such views are being stated by people organising the conference, who should be approaching the issue from an unbiased perspective and allowing both sides of the story to be debated, it shows the tone of the conference.

The topic of the conference:

Fr. Leclerc explained that the congress will be divided into nine sessions, focusing on “the essential facts upon which the theory of evolution rests, facts associated with palaeontology and molecular biology; … the scientific study of the mechanisms of evolution, … and what science has to say about the origin of human beings”. Attention will also be given to “the great anthropological questions concerning evolution, … and the rational implications of the theory for the epistemological and metaphysical fields and for the philosophy of nature”. Finally, he said, “there will be two theological sessions to study evolution from the point of view of Christian faith, on the basis of a correct exegesis of the biblical texts that mention the creation, and of the reception of the theory of evolution by the Church”.

In other words, they will be considering evolution to be an established fact, learning all about those “essential facts” underpinning it, then finally looking at how this can be fitted into Christianity through “correctly” understanding the scriptures.

There is only one way that discussion is designed to go…

Evolution is not an established fact – there are many dissenters, including atheists who disagree on purely scientific grounds. But just like global warming, if you speak up you will generally be ignored by the media (or ridiculed if you are lucky to be noticed), and could lose your job. Furthermore in the opinion of many Christians it IS mutually exclusive with Christianity – Evolution requires death before the Fall (undermining the Cross). It also requires God to use millions of years of death and suffering to create a world he then pronounces to be “very good”, and requires passages clearly written as literal (even in the Ten Commandments) to be interpreted as figurative to squeeze the theory into the text somehow.

By accepting evolution as undeniable fact before the conference even starts, discussion is stifled, and the results are predetermined – just like in a Green Party discussion on climate change…