HC refuses to ban sacramental bread and wine in churches over hygiene concerns
Does distributing bread and wine in Christian churches pose serious health hazards, especially to communicants? No, observed the High Court and turned down such a contention.
It was alleged that the practice of administering Holy Sacrament commemorating the last supper of Christ posed serious health hazards. The priests serve wine from a single chalice using the same spoon into the mouth of every communicant. Pieces of bread are also served into the mouth of every communicant by the priest with his own hand. There is no cleaning of spoon or hand while serving to each communicant which gives rise to a very high possibility of saliva contamination leading to spreading of diseases. Some can even spread through saliva droplets in air. It has to be avoided by resorting to hygienic practices, argued qualified private medical practitioners’ association.
The stand of the petitioner was that the present practice did not confirm to the provisions of Food and Safety Standards Act, 2006.
The High Court dismissed the petition observing that if at all any changes are to be made in the practice, it is to be done by the church authorities themselves and it is not possible for the court to interfere under the writ jurisdiction. The Holy Sacrament by the Christians is a matter of faith and belief. Moreover, the court said that the petitioner has not brought to its attention any law that is being violated, so there is no illegality justifying interference by the court.
The court specifically pointed out that the wine and bread received by the believer is not to satisfy their hunger but is a part of the religious and spiritual practice.