Friday, 25 September 2009

'Is St Therese of Lisieux spreading swine flu?'

'St Thérèse of Lisieux, whose relics are touring the UK, is reputed to have the power to heal the sick. More than 15,000 people have visited Liverpool's Roman Catholic cathedral to visit the jacaranda wood casket that contains pieces of the saint's thigh and foot bones, among them a cancer patient who was interviewed this morning on the Today programme.

Listening to the Today report, however, it occurred to me that encouraging many thousands of worshippers to touch and even kiss the perspex box that protects the casket might have rather less welcome consequences for public health.

With a swine flu pandemic underway, we have been told to make sure we sneeze into our elbows, to wash our hands regularly with antibacterial soap, and to avoid greeting each other with needless kisses and handshakes. The Church of England and some Catholic regions have even recommended that wine should not be offered during communion, lest the chalice spread the virus.

The St Thérèse UK tour, however, is promoting just the sort of behaviour that swine flu likes.

It also comes at just about the worst possible time, when swine flu cases are starting to rise again after a hiatus over the school summer holidays. The schools are back, the weather is getting colder, and the stage is set for a second wave. And pilgrims are being encouraged to have close physical contact with a piece of plastic that's recently been touched by thousands of other people.'

More: Link.

1 comment:

Semele said...

Well, at least it would only affect gullible Catholics in the first instance...