Irish doctor incensed over children "inhaling" at church

Irish MP and medical practitioner, Dr Jim McDaid, has again lit a firestorm of debate over his warning of the potential danger for altar servers breathing incense smoke at church services.

Reporting on the comments of Dr McDaid, who first raised his concern for incense smoke in 2003, Dr W Gifford-Jones of Canada Free Press says there are unknown health problems associated with the Christian tradition of lighting candles and burning incense during Masses.

"Here you have quite a thick billowing type of smoke. Sometimes you see children with this instrument which is down normally around their ankles, and the smoke keeps coming up", Dr McDaid, who is a Minister of State for Ireland, was quoted as saying.

Dr Gifford-Jones says "it takes a brave man to criticise current traditions and clerics who have confirmed ideas about the burning of incense".

In another story, the Canada Free Press also warns that care of children is especially necessary at Christmas.

The journal cites the case of a two-year old boy with a history of recurrent right-sided pneumonia since 10 months of age whose bouts of lung infection started a few months after his first Christmas.

Initially, doctors detected nothing abnormal after examining the lungs with a stethoscope, and the boy was otherwise healthy. But x-ray continually revealed a right-sided pneumonia.

Eventually an X-ray and CT scan showed a round mass in the lower portion of the boy's right lung that surgery showed to be a small branch of an evergreen Christmas tree that the child had swallowed.

"So keep an eye on toddlers who have a tendency to taste and swallow objects this Christmas," the Free Press warns.

What You Should Know About "Holy Smoke" (Canada Free Press, 18/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Jim McDaid (Wikipedia)

Church incense sparks Irish health alert (CathNews, 25/8/03)

19 Dec 2006