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WASHINGTON, D.C., May 28, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of President Donald Trump’s top coronavirus advisors, has called on the Church not to distribute Holy Communion during the coronavirus pandemic, but last month said sex with strangers is fine “if you’re willing to take a risk.”
Asked if the Eucharist can be distributed in a safe way, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, responded with an emphatic “no.”
“I think for the time being, you just gotta forestall that,” Fauci told America Magazine during an interview on Tuesday.
“It depends on where you are,” he then backpedaled. “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.”
“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 added.
Last month, Fauci said it was “tough” to say whether it was alright during the pandemic to have sex with strangers met on dating apps like Tinder, but “if you’re willing to take a risk—and you know, everybody has their own tolerance for risks—you could figure out if you want to meet somebody.”
“And it depends on the level of the interaction that you want to have. If you’re looking for a friend, sit in a room and put a mask on, and you know, chat a bit. If you want to go a little bit more intimate, well, then that’s your choice regarding a risk,” he said. Fauci added it’s important to “make sure the person is feeling well.”
Guidelines for beginning public Masses again, which were prepared by the Thomistic Institute and recommended by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that receiving Holy Communion directly on the tongue is possible “without unreasonable risk.”
“Opinions on this point are varied within the medical and scientific community: some believe Communion on the tongue involves an elevated and, in the light of all the circumstances, an unreasonable risk; others disagree,” the document pointed out. “If Communion on the tongue is provided, one could consider using hand sanitizer after each communicant who receives on the tongue.”
The guidelines specifically referred to Redemptionis Sacramentum, an Instruction published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2004. According to the document, “each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.”
The Thomistic Institute is part of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. However, the guidelines were prepared not only by theologians, but also by medical experts, including Timothy P. Flanigan of Brown University, and Aaron Kheriaty of the University of California, Irvine.
In his conversation with America Magazine, Fauci, in general, asked bishops and priests to use “common sense” in reopening Catholic dioceses and parishes across the country.
He urged churches to “limit the number of people, so that you don’t have people in the pews right next to each other,” while also encouraging everybody to “absolutely” wear masks.
“If the priest is on the altar, separated by 30, 40, 50 feet, you know, I wouldn’t think it was absolutely necessary to [use masks],” he admitted. “But the people who are within six, 10 feet of each other really need to.”
Fauci also discouraged the faithful from singing. “When you sing, the amount of droplets and aerosol that come out is really, in some respects, scary,” he said.
Some states within the country are already far advanced in allowing religious gatherings after the lockdown. Accordingly, the dioceses within those states are having public Masses again.
Other parts of the United States are only now beginning to allow public Masses, as Pentecost Sunday is approaching.
“You always have to take into account what the dynamic of the outbreak is in your particular region,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases pointed out. He added that “when you’re dealing with a nationwide outbreak like we have right now, you’ve really got to take precautions.”
Even though Fauci is perhaps the most prominent member of the White House coronavirus task force, he has been criticized for some of his positions, especially by Republicans.
Following Fauci’s comments during a congressional hearing on May 12, during which he spoke about the risks of reopening the country too soon, President Donald Trump himself came out against Fauci.
“I was surprised by his answer, actually, because, you know, to me it's not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools,” the President said, explaining that Fauci “wants to play all sides of the equation.”
During the same congressional hearing, Republican Senator Rand Paul, who is a doctor and has also had the coronavirus, criticized the importance given to statements by Fauci.
“I don’t think you’re the end-all,” Paul told him. “I don’t think you’re the one person who gets to make a decision. We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there’s not going to be a surge and that we can safely open the economy.”
In early March, Fauci had claimed, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.” A month later, official guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended wearing a mask in public.
On Wednesday, Fauci said he wears a mask publicly as “a symbol for people to see that that’s the kind of thing you should be doing.”