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EU human rights court rebuffs Swedish midwives punished for refusing to do abortions

The human right to freedom of conscience, the court declared, is trumped in Sweden by an employee's obligation to do whatever an employer demands of him.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 8:32 pm EST
Featured Image
The European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, France. symbiot / Shutterstock.com
Martin Bürger Follow Martin
By Martin Bürger

STRASBOURG, France, March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The European Court of Human Rights has declared “inadmissible” the applications by two Swedish midwives who had refused to commit abortions. Because they were unable to reconcile committing abortions with their conscience, Ellinor Grimmark and Linda Steen were denied unemployment benefits in Sweden.

The two separate decisions by the European Court of Human Rights were issued on March 12.

Robert Clarke, deputy director of ADF International, called the decision “a dangerous departure from the Court’s purpose in protecting fundamental freedoms.”

“We are very disappointed by the Court’s decision not to take up the cases of Ms Grimmark and Ms Steen. A positive judgment from the Court would have been an important step in the protection of the right to freedom of conscience,” he added.

Clarke pointed out that medical professionals “should be able to work without being forced to choose between their deeply held convictions and their careers.”

“Although freedom of conscience is protected as a fundamental right in almost every other European country, the decision today marks a missed opportunity to uphold this important protection in Sweden.”

Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International, also weighed in on the decision.

“Rather than forcing midwives and other medical professionals out of their profession, Sweden should look to safeguard their moral convictions,” he said.

Linda Steen, the court decision recounts, contacted the childbirth/delivery section at the women’s clinic in Nyköping in March 2015 and informed her employer that she would be unable to assist in committing abortions.

“She was told that she could not start at the clinic unless she agreed to perform abortions,” the court documents state. Eventually, Steen “was transferred, against her wishes, to her previous post as a nurse.”

Likewise, Ellinor Grimmark had informed her employer that she would be “unable to assist in carrying out abortions because of her religious faith and conscience.” A few days later, court documents show, “she received a telephone call from the hospital during which she was told that she was not welcome to work at the hospital during the summer or at any later date.”

Grimmark experienced similar treatment at other hospitals where she applied.

After going through the Swedish court system, both midwives wanted to have their case heard by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

Both filed complaints under articles 9, 10, and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 9 guarantees freedom of conscience as well as freedom of religion.

According to both decisions, “[t]he Court notes that the applicant’s refusal to assist in abortions due to her religious faith and conscience constitutes such a manifestation of her religion which is protected under Article 9 of the Convention. There was thus an interference with her freedom of religion under Article 9 § 1 of the Convention.”

At the same time, the court argued that this interference was “prescribed by law since, under the Swedish law, an employee is under a duty to perform all work duties given to him or her.” This law trumps human rights as formulated by the European Convention.

“The Court observes that Sweden provides nationwide abortion services and therefore has a positive obligation to organize its health system in a way as to ensure that the effective exercise of freedom of conscience of health professionals in the professional context does not prevent the provision of such services,” the court decisions stated.

Article 10 guarantees “the right to freedom of expression.” As with article 9, the human right is limited in its exercise and manifestation.

“The Court considers that there has been no separate interference with the applicant’s freedom of expression under Article 10 of the Convention. It has not even been alleged that the applicant’s opinion produced any adverse effects on the applicant, other than the loss of the job opportunity at the women’s clinic in Nyköping,” the decision on Steen’s case read.

In the decision on Grimmark’s case, only the location was changed, not the wording of the court’s reasoning.

Finally, Article 14 prohibits discrimination based “on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.”

Here, “[t]he Court considers that the applicant’s situation and the situation of other midwives who had agreed to perform abortions are not sufficiently similar to be compared with each other. The applicant cannot therefore claim to be in the same situation as those midwives.”


  abortion, european court of human rights, freedom of conscience, midwife, modern medicine, sweden

News

School ‘brainwashed’ our 13-year-old daughter to think she’s a boy, say UK parents

The school was also reportedly calling the teenage girl by a male name and encouraging her to get changed in a boys' cubicle.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 8:14 pm EST
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Paul Smeaton Paul Smeaton Follow Paul
By Paul Smeaton

SURREY, United Kingdom, March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Parents in the U.K. have accused teaching staff of secretly brainwashing their 13-year-old daughter to think she is a boy, according to a report in the Mail on Sunday.

According to the report, Ashleigh and Ged Barnett say they were confused when their “pretty teenage girl” started talking about feeling that she was really a boy and cutting her hair very short, before discovering that she had been having weekly one-on-one sessions with a teaching assistant in charge of the school’s LGBT group.

The Hoe Valley School in Woking, Surrey, was also reportedly calling the teenage girl by a male name and encouraging her to get changed in a boys’ cubicle.

“Our daughter was egged on to feel that she’s a boy in a girl’s body,” Mrs. Barnett said.

“The teaching assistant also pointed her in the direction of the YouTube website of a trans activist, which featured a video where they showed off their mastectomy scars and told how well the operation had gone,” the mother continued.

The parents said the LGBT sessions had been done without their knowledge.

“The school didn’t think it was fit to tell us,” Mrs Barnett said. “We are her parents, but responsibility to care for our child has been taken away. The attitude is that it’s the child’s choice and it’s got nothing to do with us.”

According to the report, head teacher Jane Davies told the unhappy parents via email that she believes that their daughter should be left to use the changing facilities she prefers and appeared to defend not informing the parents of what was happening with their child.

“We will continue to provide a safe environment for [your child], but it is not our place to alert you to how she feels,” she wrote.

“It is important that you understand that she is old enough to make her own decisions.”

Mr. Barnett said his daughter had shown “no signs of gender dysphoria immediately prior to the ‘mentoring,’ but presented with classic signs afterwards.”

Mrs. Barnett said that last August, their daughter “had lovely long hair, wore a dress and make-up, and looked like a pretty teenage girl,” but after the LGBT sessions “she didn’t look like the same child.”

“Children at 13 or 14, especially girls, are sometimes not happy in their own bodies — that’s what puberty does to you,” she added. “They are very vulnerable. It only takes one person with an agenda to plant a little seed that they are ‘in the wrong body.’”

The parents have made a number of complaints, including that the school failed to tell them that their daughter had identified as “transgender” and that it had “failed to prevent radicalization.”

The school denies the allegations. Davies said that “safeguarding will always be the priority of the school” but that she was unable to comment further because the parents are in the process of a formal complaint.

Mrs. Barnett also reportedly believes that the teaching assistant who led the one-on-one sessions had received training from a charity called “Eikon.” Eikon says it provides “guidance and support” for “LGBT young people aged 11–19” and that it is “trying to support all young people who identify LGBT+ in Surrey.”

But Eikon’s chief executive, Chris Hickford, denied that his organization trained staff to radicalize children.

“The suggestion any Eikon member of staff would train others to radicalize young people is not at all accurate,” he said. “The training assistant may well have been at professional networking events that Eikon also attended or helped facilitate, but Eikon has not provided LBGT+ training to him.”

According to the report, the teenage girl is now seeing a psychologist.

A national spokesperson for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), a U.K.-based pro-life, pro-family group, told LifeSiteNews that, taken at face value, the story shows a “terrifying disregard for the rights of parents in the education of their children.”

“For years, girls in the U.K. as young as 12 have been able to get abortions during school hours without their parents’ knowledge or consent,” the spokesman continued, “and the culture of death and disorder has developed in U.K. schools at a frightening pace. If teaching staff feel entitled to confuse children about the most basic biological realities, then schools have become little more than indoctrination centers for perversity.”


  child abuse, education, parental rights, propaganda, public schools, surrey, transgenderism, united kingdom

News

Drive-thru confessions, outdoor Masses: Heroic priests find creative ways to nourish faithful

Dedicated clergy find ingenious ways to bring the sacraments to the people during the pandemic.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 7:57 pm EST
Featured Image
Drive thru confessions at St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Bowie, Maryland Virna Flores, Facebook
Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug
By Doug Mainwaring

March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas has asked all bishops, priests and deacons to “find creative ways to give Our Daily Bread to the faithful members of the Body of Christ,” but clergy around the world had already begun to answer the call to find innovative ways to deliver the sacraments and otherwise keep the faith alive in their parishes and dioceses. 

“Pray that all bishops, priests and deacons may find creative ways to give Our Daily Bread to the faithful members of the Body of Christ,” pleaded Bishop Strickland in a tweet. 

“The virus is horrendous but spiritual death by starvation is worse,” he continued. “May the Eucharist truly be the source & summit of our life in Christ.”

Bishop Strickland isn’t the only one issuing an appeal for ingenuity in these extraordinary times.

“Priests: Come up with creative ways of making sacraments available!” encouraged Fr. Lamansky, a priest studying in Rome. 

“One possibility: Sit in the parking lot and set up a monstrance. People can come and pray without leaving their vehicles. Offer Communion through the car window (thoroughly sanitizing your hands after each time),” suggested Lamansky.

“Just because public Masses are suspended doesn't mean people should be without the sacraments. Think outside the box. Come up with ways to make sacraments available in a manner that avoids contagion and respects diocesan policies and civil laws,” added Fr. Lamansky.  

Drive-in theatre style Mass in Indiana

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Fr. Shaun Whittington of St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Sunman, Indiana, forged ahead last weekend and offered Mass in the parish parking lot, not unlike drive-in movie theaters of times past.  

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Fr. Whittington and his drive-in congregation SOURCE: Facebook

Father conducted the Mass from a trailer perched on a hill above the church parking lot where parishioners participated from their parked cars.

“Parking Lot Mass was a success! We had positive feedback! Thanks to Fr. Whittington for coming up with an innovative solution so that we are able to attend Mass and receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament while also being compliant to the COVID-19 safeguard directives,” declared a statement on the parish’s Facebook page.

Elsewhere on the St. Nicholas Facebook page, a message notes that while the parish’s planned St. Joseph feast day dinner has been canceled, parishioners are encouraged to “Bring bread to be blessed & taken home.”

Drive-thru confessional in Maryland

After the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. shut down public Masses, Fr. Scott Holmer of St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Bowie, Maryland was undeterred from keeping confessions available to his parishioners during the time Mass would normally be held and multiple other times during the week.  

“Since I cannot guarantee your physical safety by opening up the Church or the office to visitors, I have set up a “drive-through confessional” and will be hearing confessions in the Church parking lot to maintain a six-foot distance while penitents stay in their cars,” wrote Fr. Holmer in a letter to parishioners. 

“The lights might not be on for you in the Church but they will be in the parking lot!” he added.  

“This is turning out to be a Lent unlike any other,” notrd Fr. Holmer. “I believe the Lord is inviting us to an increased concern for the welfare of our neighbors and offering us the opportunity to make sacrifices for them. What a great Lenten penance for us all.”

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St. John Neumann parish transforms the main church into a 24/7 Adoration Chapel. SOURCE: Doug Mainwaring, LifeSiteNews

Main church turned into a 24/7 Adoration Chapel

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Holy hand sanitizer dispensers replace Holy Water at St. John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg, Maryland. SOURCE: Doug Mainwaring, LifeSiteNews

Also in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., Monsignor Robert Panke, pastor at St. John Neumann in Gaithersburg, Maryland, has turned the main parish church into a 24- hour, seven-days-per-week Adoration Chapel.  

While the parish has had a perpetual Adoration Chapel since 2006, it is small and could only accommodate a handful of people in cramped quarters. By placing the monstrance on the altar in the main church, many people are able to spread out and adore the Lord’s presence without having to worry about being in close proximity to others.

Additionally, after the Holy Water fonts had to be removed due to concerns about spreading the virus, dispensers of hand sanitizer were blessed and set in place of the fonts, with a sign that assures parishioners:

IT HAS BEEN BLESSED

They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die.  

It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his offspring

 throughout their generations. 

Exodus 30:21.

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Fr. Giuseppe Corbari and his congregation in Italy

A ‘flash of creativity’ fills an empty parish church during Mass

A small-town Italian priest, saddened at the prospect of celebrating Mass without his parishioners, sent out a call to them asking them to take selfies and send them to him.  

“Send me photographs of yourselves, of you and your family, the photo of your face, I need to see faces in front of me when I celebrate Mass next Sunday,” explained Fr. Giuseppe Corbari, according to a WantedinMilan.com report. “I will print the photo you send me and I will stick it with sellotape on the pew: it is a way to make me feel less alone.”

“Obviously I will put the children in the front benches, the altar boys on the altar, and all the adults in the other places,” added Fr. Corbari, who said he was happy to once again have his church full of smiling faces.

Vatican News said Fr. Corbari’s ingenuity was a “flash of creativity” that was appreciated by Pope Francis. 

****

Note to readers:  

If you know of other examples of priests and bishops finding ingenious ways to deliver the sacraments or simply to keep the faith alive in their parishes and dioceses during the global coronavirus shutdown, please forward your tips to: [email protected] 


  archdiocese of washington, dc, catholic, confessions, coronavirus, drive-in mass, eucharistic adoration, joseph strickland, mass, priests

News

Bishop walks empty Irish streets with Blessed Sacrament, blesses self-quarantined

Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, who suspended public Masses in his diocese, was filmed carrying the Blessed Sacrament through shuttered streets.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 7:56 pm EST
Featured Image
Waterford & Lismore Diocese / YouTube
Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy
By Dorothy Cummings McLean

WATERFORD, Ireland, March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― An Irish bishop walked through the almost empty streets of his city, carrying a monstrance.

Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, 60, was filmed carrying the Blessed Sacrament through the shuttered streets. This is a relatively quiet and sad St. Patrick’s Day in the Republic of Ireland because 292 cases of the coronavirus have been reported there. The Irish Times remarked that this “must be the strangest St Patrick’s Day [Waterford City] has ever experienced.”

Cullinan is among the Irish bishops who have suspended public Masses.

“Masses throughout the diocese will take place without the congregation physically present, therefore no public masses,” he said last week.

“Your local priest will celebrate daily Mass offering it up for your intentions and indeed for the whole country.”

“Bishop Phonsie” also filmed a special St. Patrick’s Day message for his diocese, in which he sings a hymn to Ireland’s patron saint.

“We won’t have public Mass today, at least in most dioceses,” he told viewers, “and there won’t be any parades. But you and I, we can celebrate. Despite all that’s going on, we can celebrate our national patron saint, St. Patrick.”

Cullinan described the difficult life and mission of St. Patrick and said he is an inspiration for the Irish in their struggle against the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“What an inspiration for all of us ... as we battle with this crisis before us,” he remarked.

Cullinan finished his message with a recitation of part of a long prayer composed by St. Patrick. Known as “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” and “Dear’s Cry,”  the prayer is particularly apropos in a time of trial:

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness

of the Creator of creation.

I arise today

Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,

Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,

Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,

Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today

Through the strength of the love of cherubim,

In the obedience of angels,

In the service of archangels,

In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,

In the prayers of patriarchs,

In the predictions of prophets,

In the preaching of apostles,

In the faith of confessors,

In the innocence of holy virgins,

In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through

The strength of heaven,

The light of the sun,

The radiance of the moon,

The splendor of fire,

The speed of lightning,

The swiftness of wind,

The depth of the sea,

The stability of the earth,

The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through

God's strength to pilot me,

God's might to uphold me,

God's wisdom to guide me,

God's eye to look before me,

God's ear to hear me,

God's word to speak for me,

God's hand to guard me,

God's shield to protect me,

God's host to save me

From snares of devils,

From temptation of vices,

From everyone who shall wish me ill,

afar and near.

I summon today

All these powers between me and those evils,

Against every cruel and merciless power

that may oppose my body and soul,

Against incantations of false prophets,

Against black laws of pagandom,

Against false laws of heretics,

Against craft of idolatry,

Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,

Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;

Christ to shield me today

Against poison, against burning,

Against drowning, against wounding,

So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,

Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in me,

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ on my right,

Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down,

Christ when I sit down,

Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness

of the Creator of creation.


  catholic, coronavirus, diocese of waterford and lismore, ireland, st. patrick

News

Trans activist Yaniv pleads guilty to weapons charge, will be sentenced

With this guilty plea, Yaniv now has a criminal record and could be sentenced to up to six months in jail or fined up to $5,000, or both.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 7:34 pm EST
Featured Image
Screen shot of Jonathan 'Jessica' Yaniv attacking Rebel reporter Jan. 13, 2020 outside of court in Surrey, British Columbia. Rebel / Twitter screen grab
Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne
By Lianne Laurence

SURREY, British Columbia, March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Transgender activist Jonathan “Jessica” Yaniv pleaded guilty Monday to one charge of possessing a prohibited weapon and will be sentenced June 1, 2020.

Judge Jay Solomon of the British Columbia Provincial Court also ordered a pre-sentencing report that will include a psychological report, the Post Millennial reported.

A 32-year-old male who claims to be a woman and describes himself as a “proud lesbian,” Yaniv is internationally notorious for filing more than 16 human rights complaints against Vancouver-area estheticians for refusing to wax his genitals, as well as for widely disseminated online social media messages that reveal his disturbing interest in young girls.

With this guilty plea, Yaniv now has a criminal record and could be sentenced to up to six months in jail or fined up to $5,000, or both.

Langley RCMP charged Yaniv in December with two counts of possessing an illegal weapon in connection with an August 5 incident in which Yaniv was seen brandishing and appeared to fire off a Taser during a heated livestreamed debate with American conservative transgender “woman” and activist Blair White.

In response to numerous complaints, RCMP arrested Yaniv at his Walnut Grove home that evening and detained him overnight. They searched his residence the next day and found two stun guns, pepper spray, and bear spray, the Post Millennial reported at that time.

Yaniv is also being civilly sued by reporters Keean Bexte and David Menzies of Rebel News for allegedly assaulting both men on separate occasions. The Surrey RCMP is investigating Yaniv’s alleged assault of Bexte.

In an incident Bexte recorded outside the Surrey courthouse January 13, Yaniv is seen aggressively approaching the retreating Rebel reporter, shouting, “Get away from me!” before allegedly clouting Bexte in the back of the head.

Menzies, co-plaintiff in the civil suit, alleges that Yaniv attacked him with a cane outside Yaniv’s condo last August, an incident he recorded.

Meanwhile, Amy Eileen Hamm, a reporter for the Post Millennial, is suing Yaniv for defamation after the trans activist claimed that Hamm sexually assaulted him in a ladies’ room at the Surrey courthouse January 13.

Despite this, Yaniv continues to go on the offensive, now targeting Kari Simpson of CultureGuard, a parents’ rights group fighting the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) program in schools.

Chris Elston, an observer at Monday’s proceedings, tweeted that Yaniv protested against Simpson attending the public court.

Yaniv tweeted later:

Yaniv also filed two new human rights complaints in October against estheticians for refusing to wax his legs. The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has deferred these complaints because Yaniv hasn’t yet paid the $6,000 in costs to three salons he accused of discrimination in complaints the tribunal heard and dismissed in 2019, reported by the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms.

Yaniv filed a discrimination complaint in July against Christian activist Bill Whatcott. He is seeking $35,000 in damages after Whatcott publicly referred to him in sidewalk preaching and a flyer as a “biological male” and a “transvestite deviant” looking to “prey on vulnerable biological women.”

Yaniv further tweeted in January that he is “not allowing” U.K. comedian Ricky Gervais, who has mercilessly skewered Yaniv in the past, to perform in Vancouver this summer.

His critics have accused him of an untoward interest in underage girls. In July 2018, he requested permission from the City of Langley, B.C. for “LGBTQ2S+ organizations” to host a topless ‘All-Bodies Swim’ at its municipal pools “for people aged 12+.” Parents and “caretakers” were barred from admittance.

Yaniv is also alleged to have contacted underage girls online, and screenshots of his comments about whether he would see nude girls in women’s change rooms and about menstruation in 10- to 12-year-old girls have circulated on the internet.


  british columbia, courts, jonathan yaniv

News

Numerous Canadian bishops cancel all Masses as coronavirus fears mount

Among the dioceses suspending all public Masses were Kingston, Hamilton, Alberta, Northwest Territories, Edmonton, Toronto, and Ottawa.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 7:27 pm EST
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
Anthony Murdoch
By Anthony Murdoch

March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Many dioceses in Canada have either canceled all Masses or limited them to only weekdays after the reported cases of coronavirus rises across the nation and provincial health authorities impose more restrictions on public gatherings. 

Archbishop Michael Mulhall of Kingston and Apostolic Administrator of Pembroke announced today that due to civil authorities declaring the province to be in a state of emergency, “all Sunday Masses, weekday Masses and public church events will be cancelled until further notice.”

“Pastors and administrators are to celebrate Sunday Mass privately in keeping with CIC canon 534 (Missa pro populo),” he said. 

Public funerals are also canceled along with public weddings. 

“Baptisms may take place in the presence of a priest or deacon, the parents and godparents. Weddings, if they take place, are to be in the presence of a priest or deacon and two witnesses,” he said. 

 “It is with great regret that I announce these measures, but they are necessary to minimize loss of life, especially among those most vulnerable to the virus,” Mulhall said. 

Some priests in Ontario are keeping churches open and are offering adoration during the day. 

Other dioceses in Canada that have canceled all Masses include the Diocese of Hamilton, Ontario. 

Bishops in Quebec announced Monday that all Masses and celebrations, including funerals, would be canceled. Churches can remain open for “private prayer and personal devotion only.”

The Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories met on a conference call Monday regarding the coronavirus outbreak, the result of which was the cancellation of all Masses until further notice. 

On Tuesday, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith gave a live address from St. Joseph’s Basilica to talk about the unprecedented cancellation of Masses saying, “I never, I never thought that as an Archbishop, and I am sure the other bishops would say the same thing, that I'd be suspending the celebration of the mass in my diocese.” 

Smith, along with his brother bishops in the dioceses of CalgaryGrouard-McLennanSt. Paul, the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton, and Mackenzie-Fort Smith, N.W.T, all sent messages to their parishes on Monday informing them of the decision. 

The bishops have all granted a dispensation to all Catholic faithful from their Sunday obligation. Churches are to remain open for personal prayer and reflection, as well as for funerals. Priests are to be available for confession as well as visiting the sick, including bringing them Holy Communion. 

No decisions have been made as to how Masses will be celebrated during Holy Week and Easter. 

Smith said the decision to cancel Masses did not come lightly and was painful for him as well as his brother bishops. 

“We made the decision, a very, very painful one for us and for all Catholics, henceforward to cancel all Masses in our dioceses in all of our churches,” said Smith. 

“This is especially painful for us because the Mass or the Eucharist is center to our faith, it's central to our identity, we live for the Mass and we live from the Mass.”

Smith then noted to take the coronavirus seriously and to heed the advice of public health officials. 

“This issue is too serious, we cannot fool around with this, this is the directive that I have put in place, and this is the directive that I expect to be followed,” said Smith.  

“We are in this together, we have to act together on this, whether it's within the church or within society, and that’s what we’ll do.”

Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller on Monday announced that Masses can continue, however, attendance must be limited to no more than 50 people. Miller also noted that Sunday obligation has been lifted for everyone. 

Holy Communion on the tongue is still allowed, however, “the faithful are strongly recommended to receive Holy Communion only in the hand.”

Cardinal Thomas Collins of the Archdiocese of Toronto announced Tuesday that all weekend and weekday Masses would be canceled. For funerals, the Rite of Committal will only be allowed to be held at the cemetery with immediate family members. There will be no funeral Masses held. 

“I encourage all people who remain at home and who are cut off from regular social interaction to engage in prayer – to pray the Rosary, to read the Scriptures and to offer prayers for those who are suffering the most in this crisis,” said Collins.

“We should also pray for the health care workers and others who are engaged in fighting this pandemic on the frontlines.”

In Ottawa, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast canceled weekend Masses.  

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement on March 13, calling all Catholics to heed the advice of their local health authorities and to stay informed on local diocesan restrictions put in place. 

The letter concluded in entrusting Canada and those affected from coronavirus to the Blessed Mother. 

“We entrust our country and especially those affected, as well as their loved ones and caretakers, to the powerful and maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and ours.”

All over the world, many churches and other places of worship have been closed due to coronavirus fears. 

As of Monday, Canada’s total confirmed coronavirus cases stand at 468. There have been five deaths in Canada, including three in British Columbia and one reported today in Ontario.

The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, is in self-isolation after his wife tested positive for coronavirus. 

On Monday, Trudeau announced that Canada would be closing its borders to non-citizens and non-residents due to the coronavirus. 

Schools and universities are closed in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia. Schools in Saskatchewan will close effective March 20. Schools in New Brunswick will likely close soon as well. 

Fr. Anthony Pillari recently told LifeSiteNews that times of crisis serve as a “great spiritual opportunity” for those with faith to help those who do not believe and feel hopeless. 

Note: Due to the rapidly evolving situation, the above list of Canadian Mass cancellations and school closures will likely change significantly over the next few days.


  anthony pillari, archdiocese of edmonton, archdiocese of kingston, archdiocese of toronto, archdiocese of vancouver, canadian conference of catholic bishops, catholic, coronavirus, diocese of hamilton, justin trudeau, michael miller, michael mulhall, richard smith, terrence prendergast, thomas collins

News

Dem congresswoman attacks Trump’s call to prayer, retweets ‘F*** a National day of prayer’

Muslim U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan contends her actions were not an 'attack on prayer.'
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 6:43 pm EST
Featured Image
U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib Twitter
Paul Smeaton Paul Smeaton Follow Paul
By Paul Smeaton

March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A Democratic congresswoman retweeted a post to “F**k a National day of prayer” that Trump held Sunday to ask God for “protection and strength” during the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, retweeted the original post by anti-gun activist David Hogg that stated, “Don’t let this administration address COVID-19 like our national gun violence epidemic. F**k a National day of prayer, we need immediate comprehensive action.”

Tlaib, who says she is “a proud Muslima,” which according to the Urban Dictionary means “a Muslim woman who is cool and knows how to socialize,” has now said that the retweet “was not to be an attack on prayer.” Tlaib said she has been praying herself through the ongoing crisis.

In 2018, Tlaib “liked” a tweet by her fellow Muslim Democrat congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, that appeared to mock Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian faith. Omar posted a picture of Pence with his eyes closed along with the words “Jesus takes the wheel!”

On her first day in Congress in 2019, Tlaib referred to Trump as a “motherfucker,” saying “we’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherfucker.”

In his proclamation released Saturday, Trump pointed out that in times of great need “Americans have always turned to prayer to help guide us through trials and periods of uncertainty.”

The president told his fellow Americans that they “must not cease asking God for added wisdom, comfort, and strength, and we must especially pray for those who have suffered harm or who have lost loved ones.” 

Trump asked believers “to pray for the health and well-being of your fellow Americans and to remember that no problem is too big for God to handle.”

The president quoted “the holy words” of 1 Peter 5:7 in his proclamation. “Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you,” the Scripture says.

“Let us pray that all those affected by the virus will feel the presence of our Lord’s protection and love during this time. With God’s help, we will overcome this threat,” Trump was certain.

A second intention listed by Trump was “to pray for those on the front lines of the response, especially our nation’s outstanding medical professionals and public health officials who are working tirelessly to protect all of us from the coronavirus and treat patients who are infected; all of our courageous first responders, National Guard, and dedicated individuals who are working to ensure the health and safety of our communities; and our federal, state, and local leaders.”

In conclusion, Trump emphasized that through prayer, as well as acts of love, “we will rise to this challenge and emerge stronger and more united than ever before.”


  coronavirus, david hogg, donald trump, ilhan omar, michigan, mike pence, muslims, national day of prayer, rashida tlaib, u.s. congress

News

Judge rules Alaska must fund librarian’s sex-change surgery

The case could ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court's definition of 'sex discrimination' in the Civil Rights Act.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 5:00 pm EST
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Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger

JUNEAU, Alaska, March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge has sided with an Alaska librarian who is demanding the state subsidize his gender reassignment surgery as a public employee, ruling Friday that federal civil-rights law should be interpreted as mandating the coverage.

Jennifer Fletcher, a man who identifies as a woman, is a state legislative librarian in Juneau. He says he has had to spend thousands of dollars on sex-reassignment treatments because they aren’t covered by the state’s health insurance plan, Alaska Public Media reported.

Represented by the pro-LGBT group Lambda Legal, Fletcher sued the state on the grounds that the exclusion supposedly violates the federal ban on “sex discrimination” in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 

The state responded that the procedures in question would not have been covered for men or women, but U.S. District Court Judge H. Russel ultimately agreed with Lambda’s argument.

Russel’s decision could be appealed, but the dispute is more likely to be resolved by a case already before the U.S. Supreme Court that consolidates several similar controversies from around the country and hinges on the meaning of the 1964 law.

The text of Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” At issue is whether this reference to sex should be interpreted to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

“The meaning of ‘sex’ depends on the term’s public meaning in 1964, the year Congress enacted Title VII,” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) senior counsel John Bursch argued. “There is little dispute that, in 1964, the term ‘sex’ was publicly understood, as it is now, to mean biological sex: male and female. After all, the term ‘gender identity’ wasn’t even part of the American lexicon at the time. Its first use was at a European medical conference in 1963. And no semblance of it appeared in federal law until 1990.”

Should the LGBT lobby’s interpretation prevail, the fallout would go far beyond protecting homosexual or transgender Americans from tangible harm. Rather, it could force churches to recognize same-sex “marriages”; photographers, florists, and bakers to participate in same-sex “weddings”; and women and girls to share sleeping quarters, showers, changing areas, and restrooms with gender-confused males (or men claiming trans status to get easy access to vulnerable women).


  alaska, gender-reassignment, jennifer fletcher, lambda legal, lawsuit, lgbt, sex reassignment surgery, transgenderism

News

New scientific paper suggests high deaths from coronavirus without effective containment

Epidemiologists say that if the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 is not stopped, deaths in the U.S. could potentially reach 2.2 million deaths.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 4:48 pm EST
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Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy
By Dorothy Cummings McLean

LONDON, England, March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― Epidemiologists say that if the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 is not stopped, deaths in the U.S. could potentially reach 2.2 million and in Britain 510,000. 

The COVID-19 Response Team from London’s Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine published a paper yesterday about preventing the pandemic from overwhelming the health systems of both the U.K. and the U.S. Their findings have already been used to influence governmental policy in the U.K. and other nations.

The team, led by Professor Neil Ferguson, reported that the world is facing the most serious public health threat from a respiratory virus since the so-called Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Using data about the pandemic and the capacities of the British and American health networks, they have accessed the various public health measures that can be taken to stop people from spreading the highly contagious virus. 

The two strategies the epidemiologists proposed were mitigation, which will slow down the speed at which the virus is being passed on, and suppression, which will reverse its progress. The Response Team prefers suppression as a strategy, claiming that mitigation will still lead to a high mortality rate. 

“We find that that [sic] optimal mitigation policies (combining home isolation of suspect cases, home quarantine of those living in the same household as suspect cases, and social distancing of the elderly and others at most risk of severe disease) might reduce peak healthcare demand by 2/3 and deaths by half,” they wrote. 

“However, the resulting mitigated epidemic would still likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over. For countries able to achieve it, this leaves suppression as the preferred policy option.” 

In America and the U.K., they say this suppression will require, at very least, social distancing of the entire population, home isolation of people with the virus and the household quarantine of their families. This will need to be maintained until a Covid-19 vaccine is available ― something that may be 18 months in the future.

If the “suppression” method is relaxed too soon, the virus could rebound. But at the same time, the suppression measures carry “profound” consequences for society. 

“[W]hile experience in China and now South Korea show that suppression is possible in the short term, it remains to be seen whether it is possible long-term, and whether the social and economic costs of the interventions adopted thus far can be reduced,” the epidemiologists wrote. 

If no precautions were taken, and the virus was allowed to take its course, the mortality rate – by which the report means daily deaths – would peak after three months. Eighty-one percent (81%) of both Great Britain and the U.S. would be infected and, the Response Team predicted, there would be 2.2 million coronavirus deaths in the U.S. and 510,000 in the U.K. Britain’s death rate would peak in late May, and America’s in early June. 

However, this does not take into consideration all the people who would die from accidents and ailments that went untreated because hospitals were overflowing. The Response Team estimated that, if left to run through the population unchecked, COVID-19 would lead to Intensive Care Units being overfilled by mid-April.

“For an uncontrolled epidemic, we predict critical care bed capacity would be exceeded as early as the second week in April, with an eventual peak in ICU or critical care bed demand that is over 30 times greater than the maximum supply in both countries,” they wrote. 

But even a mitigating strategy would overwhelm the hospitals, so they advise that suppression is probably necessary to stop the contagion in the countries that can actually carry it out. This, unfortunately, requires the social distancing of the entire population for five months. 

“Given that mitigation is unlikely to be a viable option without overwhelming healthcare systems, suppression is likely necessary in countries able to implement the intensive controls required,” the Response Team wrote.  

“Our projections show that to be able to reduce [rate of transmission] to close to 1 or below, a combination of case isolation, social distancing of the entire population and either household quarantine or school and university closure are required,” they continued.   

Household quarantine would be made more effective by closing down schools and universities―although this does not account to all the parents who would otherwise be working in the ICU having to tend to their children at home.  

This slowing down of the spread of the virus through the U.S. and the U.K. will not stop it completely, and the Response Team warns that the suppression policies would have to be maintained until a vaccine is available. However, it may be possible to give the population of a given area breaks from the measures, depending on the local situation. 

“To avoid a rebound in transmission, these policies will need to be maintained until large stocks of vaccine are available to immunise the population – which could be 18 months or more,” they wrote.  

“Adaptive hospital surveillance-based triggers for switching on and off population-wide social distancing and school closure offer greater robustness to uncertainty than fixed duration interventions and can be adapted for regional use (e.g. at the state level in the US),” they continued.  

“Given local epidemics are not perfectly synchronised, local policies are also more efficient and can achieve comparable levels of suppression to national policies while being in force for a slightly smaller proportion of the time. However, we estimate that for a national [Great Britain] policy, social distancing would need to be in force for at least 2/3 of the time ... until a vaccine was available.”

The Response Team concluded that the epidemic suppression method  – involving the social distancing of the entire population – is the “only viable strategy” now.  

“We therefore conclude that epidemic suppression is the only viable strategy at the current time,” they wrote.  

“The social and economic effects of the measures which are needed to achieve this policy goal will be profound. Many countries have adopted such measures already, but even those countries at an earlier stage of their epidemic (such as the UK) will need to do so imminently.”


  coronavirus

News

Illinois votes on ‘last pro-life Democrat’ in Congress amid coronavirus panic

Though Dan Lipinski's record is 50-50 on abortion, his campaign received support from some pro-life groups.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 4:13 pm EST
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Rep. Dan Lipinski. EWTN via YouTube
Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – As debate continues nationwide as to whether primaries should be delayed or canceled in the name of preventing the coronavirus’ spread, the Democrat primary election for the congressional seat held by “last pro-life Democrat” Rep. Dan Lipinski continued Tuesday as planned.

Lipinski, who represents Illinois’ Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, has mixed voting records on abortion but generally averages above 50 percent from pro-life groups and below 50 percent from pro-abortion ones. He supports requiring doctors to provide live-saving treatment to newborns who survive abortion, which is congressional Republicans’ current pro-life legislative priority. 

However, last May he also voted for the so-called Equality Act, a broad pro-LGBT bill whose provisions would have also imperiled the rights of health workers who object to participating in abortion. Lipinski pointed to a failed amendment he introduced that would have limited the bill’s application to abortion, but ultimately voted for the un-amended version.

Nevertheless, Lipinski has the enthusiastic support of some national pro-life groups. Hailing him as a “pro-life champion,” the Susan B. Anthony List spent heavily on a campaign to reach more than 17,000 “pro-life Democratic” households via digital advertising, phone calls, and direct mail. Students for Life of America, meanwhile, has been working on contacting more than 10,000 voters “in defense of an endangered species – the pro-life Democrat.”

Their efforts may be critical to Lipinski’s political survival. Lipinski only won his last primary by two percentage points, and it remains to be seen who the coronavirus panic’s impact on turnout will hurt more: him or his opponent, Marie Newman.

"I think (Newman’s campaign team) have the ability to turn out these suburban voters," Democrat strategist Pete Giangreco told CNN. "The question becomes: Is the rickety old machine any good at pulling people out in the middle of a coronavirus outbreak? I think you gotta call it a toss-up."

"The bigger question is do a lot of older folks not vote on election day,” he added. “And if that's the case, Lipinski's got a problem, because his vote skews way old.”

Whether the re-election of “pro-life Democrats” would actually help the pro-life movement is also disputed. While individual lawmakers can technically vote against their party’s official position on any given issue, their party affiliation decides which party’s leaders have majority control over the House or Senate. This influences legislation’s fortunes in various ways, including scheduling votes, setting procedural rules, controlling committees, and more.

“Remember, the Speaker of the House ultimately determines the legislative agenda and if the party committed to elective abortion controls the chamber, its candidate for speaker will inevitably be pro-abortion,” Life Training Institute president Scott Klusendorf has argued. “Nevertheless, these pro-life members vote for their party’s candidate for speaker, which all but guarantees that pro-life bills never see the light of day. In most cases, then, they aren’t reforming their party’s pro-abortion stance; they’re enabling it.”

It is on these grounds that Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi justified her own endorsement of Lipinski in 2018, arguing at the time that his victory would contribute to securing “a pro-choice gavel when we win the Congress.”


  abortion, dan lipinski, democrats, house of representatives, illinois, pro-life democrats

News

Service to report sex abuse of US Catholic bishops goes live in midst of coronavirus pandemic 

The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting service allows complainants to file confidential reports with an independent, third-party service.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 3:35 pm EST
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U.S. Catholic bishops at their November 2017 meeting. Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews
Paul Smeaton Paul Smeaton Follow Paul
By Paul Smeaton

UNITED STATES, March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A new system paid for by the 197 dioceses and eparchies of the United States was launched yesterday to report “sexual abuse or misconduct” committed by U.S. Catholic bishops. The service was launched in the midst of the country reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting service (CBAR) allows complainants to file confidential reports with an independent, third-party service, either via telephone or an online form. Reports will then be forwarded, unedited, to the appropriate Church authority, which is usually a Metropolitan archbishop, or a Senior Suffragan bishop if the report is about the Metropolitan.

While the service is paid for by dioceses across the U.S., it is provided by a third-party commercial vendor.

“This third-party reporting system is provided by Convercent, Inc., which is a commercial vendor of ethics reporting services and has no authority within the Catholic Church,” the website for the new service states. 

“The service reflects Convercent’s standard design for confidentially receiving and relaying reports, additionally tailored to fit the requirements of Church law. The service is paid for by the 197 dioceses and eparchies of the United States. The service is operated by the Metropolitan archbishops and Senior Suffragan bishops of each province, with the assistance of the designated lay people corresponding to each,” the website adds. 

The website for the new service is ReportBishopAbuse.org and calls can be made to 1-800-276-1562.

A statement by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia says that the system was launched in response to Vos Estis Lux Mundi, a 2019 motu proprio issued by Pope Francis, establishing new rules for clerical sexual abuse investigations. 

The motu proprio provides procedures for pursuing investigations when the accused is a bishop, cardinal, or religious superior. In the past, victims and accusers have complained that investigations against the hierarchy have languished, as was the case with the now-disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. 

The new rules require all dioceses and eparchies around the world to create “one or more public, stable and easily accessible systems for submission of reports” by May 31 this year.

The service’s website stresses that the service is not intended as a substitute for calling the police and urges those who feel that they are a victim of a crime to contact local law enforcement immediately. The site also notes that those who receive reports of “sexual abuse of a minor and certain other crimes will report them to civil authorities as required by law.”

The Frequently Asked Questions section of the website notes the sorts of complaints of sexual abuse against a bishop the service has been established to receive. A U.S. Catholic bishop who has:

  • forced someone to perform or to submit to sexual acts through violence, threat, or abuse of authority;
  • performed sexual acts with a minor or a vulnerable person;
  • produced, exhibited, possessed, or distributed child pornography, or recruited or induced a minor or a vulnerable person to participate in pornographic exhibitions;
  • or, a U.S. diocesan or eparchial bishop, or other cleric overseeing a diocese/eparchy in the absence of a diocesan or eparchial bishop, who, in the exercise of their office, intentionally interfered with a civil or Church investigation into allegations of sexual abuse committed by another cleric or religious

In addition to being sent to the relevant bishop, reports will also be forwarded to a lay person assigned to assist in receiving the reports. 

In the wake of the McCarrick abuse scandal last year, US bishops Joseph Strickland and Shawn McKnight called on their fellow bishops to involve the laity in the investigation of abuse by bishops. 

“Lay involvement should be mandatory to make darn sure that we bishops do not harm the Church in the way bishops have harmed the Church, especially what we have become aware of this past year,” McKnight said at the bishops’ General Assembly in June last year.

Under the new system, the bishop who receives a report will be required to send the report and an initial assessment to the Apostolic Nuncio. The Nuncio will then refer cases to the Holy See, who will decide within thirty days if a formal investigation is required. If so, a bishop will be tasked with overseeing the investigation.

According to the website, if the Holy See does launch an investigation “it will be undertaken by qualified experts, including lay persons.” The site claims that “[n]ormally, the investigation is to be completed within 90 days of receiving the order from the Holy See.”

In September 2019, the Vatican began the first investigation under the new rules established by Vos Estis Lux Mundi into Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner for charges that he impeded a police or canonical investigation of clerical sexual misconduct in the Crookston diocese. No judgment has yet been passed. In February this year, the Vatican announced that it was launching a further investigation into Hoeppner.


  catholic bishop abuse reporting, clergy sex abuse, convercent, u.s. bishops, us bishops

News

Nun implores bishops to reinstate Sunday masses

Mother Miriam implores bishops to bring back public masses during this time of great need.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 3:17 pm EST
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Mother Miriam speaks at Conference of Catholic Families, Dublin, Ireland, Aug. 22–23, 2018. John-Henry Westen / LifeSiteNews
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By LSN

March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – As the coronavirus panic spreads across the world, countless bishops and even the Pope have canceled Masses in their dioceses. Although the concern of spreading the virus is great, Mother Miriam reminds her listeners that we shouldn’t let fear control us during this difficult time.  

On Monday’s episode of Mother Miriam Live, Mother encouraged listeners to beg their bishops to reinstate Masses. During this trying time, we need to draw nearer to God, not be paralyzed by fear. 

Watch Mother Miriam as she calls on bishops to bring back public masses:

“This time should not be a time of isolation and protecting ourselves. It should be a time of drawing near our Lord and having no fear,” Mother told listeners.  

When the plague struck Rome in the late 500s it killed the current Pope at the time, Pope Pelagius II. Yet, when his successor Pope Saint Gregory the Great was elected, he didn’t hide from the plague, or cancel Masses. He faced the plague head on. Through prayer, fasting, and a procession with an image of Our Lady, the plague ceased. Read more about the beautiful miracle that occurred here. 

Mother Miriam calls on her listeners and all Catholic faithful to remind their bishops of Pope Saint Gregory the Great’s response. We must be courageous and have faith in God during this trying time. We can use reason and prudence to take measures not to expose ourselves to the virus or infect others.

The celebration of Mass, prayer, and fasting are of utmost importance.  

“I’d rather have our Lord than be afraid we catch the virus,” Mother tells listeners.  

To hear more from Mother Miriam tune into her daily live show. Mother Miriam Live airs Monday through Friday at 10 AM EST here.  You can hear Mother’s past shows here.

To stay updated on Mother’s most recent shows, sign-up for email reminders and updates: 

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News

Vatican theologians help pastors protect sacraments asked for by ‘baptized nonbelievers’

New document by International Theological Commission emphasizes necessity of faith for the sacraments.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 2:33 pm EST
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Martin Bürger Follow Martin
By Martin Bürger

ROME, Italy, March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A Vatican-body of about 30 theologians that advises the Holy See on doctrinal questions has released a document addressing the crisis of poorly formed Catholics receiving sacraments, such as marriage, with little knowledge of what they signify and how they work. 

The International Theological Commission’s (ITC) document, titled “The Reciprocity Between Faith and Sacraments in the Sacramental Economy,” states that in extreme cases, a complete absence of faith in a couple may prevent a sacramental marriage from taking place.

“The existence today of ‘baptized nonbelievers’ raises a new theological problem and a grave pastoral dilemma, especially when the lack of, or rather the rejection of, the Faith seems clear,” states the document. 

“Where there is no trace of faith (in the sense of “belief”-being disposed to believe), and no desire for grace or salvation is found, then a real doubt arises as to whether there is the above-mentioned general and truly sacramental intention and whether the contracted marriage is validly contracted or not,” the document adds. 

The document was released in early March. It “stresses the importance of Catholic doctrine and morals and that these doctrines and morals ought to be believed if one is going to be an authentic Catholic,” said Fr. Thomas Weinandy, who is a member of the ITC.

The Capuchin priest recently talked to Edward Pentin, Rome correspondent of the National Catholic Register. He explained that the minister of the sacrament “must have the intention of doing what the Church does within those sacraments.”

In the case of marriage, the spouses are the ministers, while the priest is the Church’s witness.

“Here is where the problem within the sacrament of marriage becomes tricky,” Weinandy said. “Most Catholic couples probably intend to effect a truly sacramental marriage — even if they do not have a great deal of faith, nor practice their faith to any great extent.” In those cases, a sacramental marriage is effected.

Some situations are different, though. A parish priest might get the impression that “a couple is so ignorant of their faith and have never practiced their faith, that [he] wonders if they are incapable of doing what the Church does within a sacramental marriage.”

The ITC document argues that because of the spouses’ “complete ignorance of the faith and complete non-practice of their faith, they may be incapable of effecting a sacramental marriage.” The commission suggests that for pastors, it is consistent with the Church’s sacramental practice “to deny the sacrament of marriage” to such couples when they meet certain conditions.

Weinandy emphasized that this idea, proposed for the first time by the ITC, is not new. 

In his interview, Pentin suggested that perhaps “merely the decision to enter sacramental marriage shows a degree of faith, however small or unconscious.”

While true under “normal circumstances,” Weinandy explained, in today’s society there are many exceptional cases. “What about the case where the couple really wanted to get married on the beach before a justice of the peace, and the only reason they want a wedding in a Catholic church before a Catholic priest is because Mom has now insisted upon it,” he asked.

“The sacramentality of the event does not enter their minds, and they could care less. They do not even know what it means for marriage to be a sacrament. They will say ‘Yes’ to all of the priest’s preparatory questions, not because they believe what is being asked, but because they just want to get on with it—Mom wants them to get married in church so that is what they are doing and will say and do anything to assure this.”

A final judgment of whether or not a marriage took place would still have to be made by a marriage tribunal, not by the spouses themselves.

However, Weinandy explained that “these are real problems that a pastor often faces; and the document is attempting to address these issues in a way that is faithful to Church teaching and to the pastoral reality that is at hand. There are no simple, easy answers to these pastoral problems.”

According to the Vatican website, “The task of the [ITC] is that of helping the Holy See and primarily the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in examining doctrinal questions of major importance.”

Weinandy said that the ITC “always tries to choose topics that are theologically and pastorally relevant.” Thus the issue of faith and the sacraments was covered by the members of the ITC.

“The reason this topic was chosen is due to the real problem that exists within the Church today. People participate in the sacraments but often have little or no faith.”

Weinandy mentioned “Christmas-and-Easter Catholics who come to Mass only on those solemnities and receive Communion and never go to confession. Again, they are nominal Catholics but do not really practice their faith.”

A better understanding of the relationship between faith and the sacraments is also of spiritual consequence for the faithful. “The more that one’s faith is alive, the more the grace of the sacraments will enliven those ones who participate in them,” the Capuchin theologian remarked.

“The pastoral issues that this document dealt with can only be rectified when nominal Catholics come to a deeper understanding of the faith and, in turn, make a more mature act of faith. Until the faith of the Church comes alive in the hearts and the minds of the people, these pastoral issues will remain.”

As is customary, the ITC document was presented to the Pope, whose “favorable opinion” it received on December 19, 2019.


  catholic, international theological commission, marriage, sacraments, thomas weinandy

News

Wyoming legislature sends born-alive protection bill to governor’s desk

Democrats have repeatedly blocked a similar anti-infanticide law that would have applied nationwide.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 2:23 pm EST
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By Calvin Freiburger

CHEYENNE, Wyoming, March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Wyoming is poised to become the latest state to ensure life-saving care for babies who survive botched abortions, thanks to a bill that just cleared its final legislative hurdle.

Senate File 97 would require physicians to provide care for children delivered alive after failed abortions, even if a baby is deemed to have a condition “incompatible with life.” Physicians who fail to do so would face as many as 14 years in prison.

The Wyoming House passed the bill 44-16 last week, KGAB reports. It has already passed the state Senate, and now goes to Republican Gov. Mark Gordon for his likely signature.

“Life is either precious or it’s not. And to me, all life is inherently, God-givenly, precious,” declared Republican state Rep. Jared Olsen in a floor debate over the measure, the Casper Star Tribune adds.

Some lawmakers attempted to amend the bill to reduce its penalties from felony status to misdemeanor, arguing that 14 years in jail was too severe for cases that might involve severe medical conditions. But the amendment failed.

Abortion defenders have attempted to discredit born-alive laws by arguing that infanticide is a myth, and that existing laws already suffice to deter it. In fact, several former abortion industry insiders and policy scholars have told Congress that many cases of infanticide are not captured by the official numbers. Further, the existing federal laws on the subject do not contain specific criminal penalties for withholding medical treatment from newborns.

Over the past year, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have repeatedly blocked a similar born-alive law that would have applied nationwide. Last month, that bill failed to pass the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate because the chamber’s current rules require 60 votes for most legislation rather than a simple majority.

Currently, 35 states have some form of born-alive protection on the books, though only 16 of those states’ laws qualify as “strong,” according to the Family Research Council.


  abortion, born-alive bill, infanticide, wyoming

News

Coronavirus hits French bishop who met with Pope Francis while infected 

Bishop Emmanuel Delmas experienced symptoms while visiting the Pope in Rome.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 1:37 pm EST
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Martin Bürger Follow Martin
By Martin Bürger

ANGERS, France, March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A French bishop tested positive for coronavirus after having visited the Vatican while infected where he spent time in the presence of Pope Francis. 

Bishop Emmanuel Delmas and 29 French bishops had visited Pope Francis in the Vatican on March 9. The 65-year-old was already experiencing symptoms in Rome, the diocese confirmed in a statement.

Pope Francis received the delegation of bishops from more than two dozen dioceses in France. The bishops came to Rome for an ad limina visit, which obliges all bishops to come to the Eternal City once every five years.

The Holy See Press Office did not respond to media inquiries asking if the French bishops had greeted Pope Francis with a customary handshake after the meeting.

Corrispondenza Romana reported, however, that bishops met Pope Francis, “each giving him his hand.”

A statement from the Angers diocese said that the bishop is “only slightly affected and his condition is currently not causing concern.” 

“He is following the prescribed rest and treatment and has been in isolation since his return from Italy.”

Delmas invited the faithful “to persevere in prayer.” He recommended “this time of trial” as an opportunity “to pray especially for the sick, the frail and those working in health care.”

According to Famille Chretienne, the bishops accompanying Delmas are quarantined, as well.

It is not yet clear whether Pope Francis is quarantined. On Sunday, he went on a walking pilgrimage to two churches in Rome, praying for an end of the coronavirus epidemic.

“This afternoon, just after 4 pm, Pope Francis left the Vatican and made a private visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, to offer a prayer to the Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani, where her icon is kept and venerated,” the Holy See Press Office stated on Sunday, according to Vatican News.

“Then, after taking a walk along the Via del Corso – as if making a pilgrimage – he visited the church of San Marcello al Corso, where a miraculous crucifix is housed. In 1522 it was carried in procession throughout the neighborhoods of the city so that the ‘Great Plague’ might cease in Rome.”

The bishop of Angers is not the first bishop to battle coronavirus. 98-year-old bishop Joseph Zhu Baoyu of Nanyang in China was diagnosed with the disease in early February.

“He has tested negative since February 12 and his lungs were declared no longer infected on February 14,” AsiaNews reported. The bishop was also suffering from other diseases.

Additionally, bishop Antonio Napolioni of Cremona in Italy, who had been hospitalized due to coronavirus, was discharged on Monday. The diocese announced that the bishop remains in quarantine for at least two more weeks, when he will be tested for coronavirus once more.

“The entire Church of Cremona, while raising its gratitude to God, joins in warm thanks to the health staff … and all the workers who do their best for the good of so many suffering people, and therefore welcomes with joy the news of the discharge of bishop Antonio and his return home, wishing him to continue his convalescence with serenity in the expectation of being able to see him soon among our communities at the end of this painful emergency,” the diocese added.

In Italy, at least 10 priests have died of the coronavirus. According to the Catholic News Agency, “more than half of them were from the diocese of Bergamo” in northern Italy.

“The number of priests who have died this week and that of those who are still in a particularly serious situation is very high,” bishop Francesco Beschi of Bergamo warned.

Italy is nearing 30,000 cases of people diagnosed with the coronavirus. The number of deaths has risen to almost 2,000. On March 16, the number of daily new cases was lower than on the two days before.

France has reported roughly 6,600 cases, and 148 deaths.

French dioceses, for instance, the archdiocese of Paris, announced that public Masses are canceled. Baptisms and marriages are no longer possible, while funerals cannot exceed 100 participants.


  catholic, coronavirus, emmanuel delmas, france, pope francis

Opinion

Coronavirus silver lining? Less student indoctrination in schools

The best thing that could happen to America would be for liberal academic institutions to weaken. The coronavirus might just accomplish this.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 9:13 pm EST
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4 PM Production / Shutterstock.com
Andrea Widberg
By Andrea Widberg

March 17, 2020 (American Thinker) — When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. When life hands you the coronavirus, start looking at all the good that can come from it. In that regard, if you haven't already read Gordon Wysong's delightful article about the benefits that can flow to America from its brush with coronavirus ("The Coronavirus Will Save America"), you should. It will lift your spirits.

In keeping with Mr. Wysong's premise, here's one more beneficial change that might flow from the coronavirus interlude in America: it may weaken America's institutions of higher indoctrination, also known as America's colleges and universities.

It's common knowledge that American academia is staffed almost entirely with Democrats:

There are more than 10 professors affiliated with the Democratic Party for every faculty member who is a registered Republican, according to a new study.

Mitchell Langbert, an associate professor of business management at Brooklyn College, reviewed the party affiliations of 8,688 tenure-track, Ph.D.-holding professors at 51 of the top 60 liberal arts colleges listed in U.S. News and World Report's 2017 rankings.

Nearly 60 percent of all faculty members were registered as either a Republican or a Democrat, and of that sample, there were 10.4 times as many Democrats as Republicans.

"The political registration of full-time, Ph.D.-holding professors in top-tier liberal arts colleges is overwhelmingly Democratic," Mr. Langbert wrote in an article published by the National Association of Scholars. "Indeed, faculty political affiliations at 39 percent of the colleges in my sample are Republican free — having zero Republicans."

This single-minded leftist staffing, which has gone on for decades now, has released into America all sorts of pernicious ideas. These ideas include hatred for America and her institutions, demands to end free speech, climate change madness, gender insanity, support for socialism, identity politics, racial segregation, an un-American anti-Semitism, and lots of ignorance. (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the poster child for the "un-educating" that goes on in academia.)

The best thing that could happen to America would be for these institutions to weaken. One of the ways is to withdraw all taxpayer funds from these institutions unless the funds go to hardcore science in the service of national defense or health. Another way is to end the Obama-era program that eliminated the old federal guaranteed loan program and funneled all loans through the Department of Education, which made student loans explode. Both these ideas require unlikely congressional action.

It turns out that there's another way for these institutions to weaken: have a mass panic about the coronavirus. Colleges across America are sending kids home. For most, the remainder of the semester will be through online education. Being at a remove from the campus ethos instantly dilutes the power of propaganda. If young people aren't surrounded all the time by mini-revolutionaries, there's less likelihood that the nice, feminine daughter you raised will turn into a howling, man-hating feminist.

Online education also means that colleges need less money because there aren't students on campus. The enormous administrative staffs that are primarily responsible for the increase in college costs become unnecessary.

It turns out that there's another, unexpected upside to the coronavirus, which is that the changes to academia will take foreign money, especially Chinese money, out of college campuses. At the Daily Caller, in an article that's behind the Patriots paywall, Marlo Safi explains that "U.S. Colleges May Suffer Billions in Revenue Loss Due to Coronavirus Travel Restrictions."

According to Safi, Trump's travel restrictions, if they continue into the next semester, will keep almost 370,000 Chinese students and around 700,000 other international students off of America's campuses. These students are all valuable because they pay full fare, with no discounts or scholarships.

The coronavirus may also force American campuses to cut their academic ties with China. The Confucius Institute is a Chinese government program that has a presence at myriad American colleges and universities. Although it's ostensibly meant just to promote Chinese language and culture, the Chinese government uses the Confucius Institute as a propaganda tool. We've also recently seen that embracing China too closely is literally unhealthy for the West.

Another example of problems from ties that are too close between China and academia is the case of Charles Lieber, a professor in Harvard's Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department. In January, Lieber was arrested for making hundreds of thousands of dollars stealing American research and technology and selling it to China. Harvard's close relationship with China, no doubt, made that easy to do.

This video from last September has a lot of good information about the reason why Chinese national students are flooding American colleges and universities:

Published with permission from the American Thinker.


  china, coronavirus, higher education, propaganda

Opinion

Mainstream media use fake news to paint Trump as callous on coronavirus

It turns out that the New York Times was engaged in a lie by omission.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 9:08 pm EST
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Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Andrea Widberg
By Andrea Widberg

March 17, 2020 (American Thinker) — The mainstream American media have abandoned journalism's formerly prized ethos of "who, what, where, why, when." There is no pretense anymore that they serve a purpose other than maligning Donald Trump in the hope of destroying his presidency. The latest example comes from The New York Times, a once respected institution that now would offend the birds whose cages it might line.

President Trump has recommended new, very stringent social distancing guidelines as part of slowing the coronavirus's spread in the United States. Speaking of slowing the virus, keep in mind that, thanks in part to President Trump's decision to close America's borders to China in January, the spread here has already been slow. Currently, despite the virus having been present but unidentified in America for some time, only 0.00002 percent of the population has died [i.e., 68 people].)

The New York Times began its report on the new guidelines in a straightforward fashion:

The Trump administration released new guidelines on Monday to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including closing schools and avoiding groups of more than 10 people, discretionary travel, bars, restaurants and food courts.

The Times also reported that Trump is optimistic that the steps America is taking will keep the infection and mortality numbers low here, with the virus wrapped up by the end of summer:

"It seems to me if we do a really good job, we'll not only hold the death down to a level that's much lower than the other way had we not done a good job, but people are talking about July, August," Mr. Trump said about the duration of the crisis.

Indeed, the Times even included Trump's statement about America working together to solve the problem:

"If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now," Mr. Trump said, "we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus and we're going to have a big celebration all together."

And then the Times moved in for the kill, obviously intending to show what a hypocrite President Trump is:

Hours earlier, Mr. Trump told a group of governors they should not wait for the federal government to fill the growing demand for respirators needed to help people diagnosed with coronavirus.

"Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves," Mr. Trump told the governors during the conference call, a recording of which was shared with The New York Times.

Unsurprisingly, New York Times reporters then tweeted out the article, putting special emphasis on Trump's hypocrisy, cruelty, and incompetence:

Trump's a bad man, right? Wrong. This is yet another example of the media's despicable ongoing attacks against Trump. In other words, it's fake news.

It turns out that the New York Times was engaged in a lie by omission — something that, at common law, is every bit as wrong as an affirmative fraud. Here's what Trump actually said (emphasis added):

Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves. We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.

Thus, Trump told the governors to get ventilators in the fastest, best way, rather than to be dependent on the slow-moving federal government. That's a good thing. It's not hypocritical, cruel, or incompetent.

The media are currently outraged that Republicans are less panicked by the coronavirus than Democrats are. Part of that may be because Democrats are ruled more by emotion than by reason. A lot of it, though, is because Republicans have no reason to trust the media.

If members of the media believe that saying something will hurt Trump, they'll say it — and that's true whether what they're saying is honest or not. If the media hysterically use coronavirus to attack Trump, Republicans instinctively assume (a) that coronavirus isn't that bad and (b) that Trump's doing an excellent job of handling it.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.


  coronavirus, donald trump, fake news, mainstream media, new york times, propaganda

Opinion

Global warming boosters dismayed: Turns out coronavirus hates heat

Theoretically, if we want to protect ourselves from the coronavirus, we must back away from all the climate change efforts we've been making.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 9:02 pm EST
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Shutterstock.com
Andrea Widberg
By Andrea Widberg

March 17, 2020 (American Thinker) — For decades, leftists have blamed all actual or potentially harmful events on global warming. They then justify their political initiatives — from socialism to open borders to abortion — as reasonable responses to climate change. Since the Chinese Virus appeared on the scene, however, the world's leftists have fallen silent about global warming. That silence may have to become permanent because it seems that coronavirus hates the heat.

People have speculated that the coronavirus, like most viruses, prefers cold, dry weather to warm, wet weather. Indeed, that common knowledge is what led President Trump to say he believes that the coronavirus will start retreating in April.

Two studies indicate that Trump's instincts may be correct. Four Chinese professors who studied the coronavirus's spread in China concluded that it does retreat in the face of warmer, wetter weather (emphasis added):

This paper investigates how air temperature and humidity influence the transmission of COVID-19. After estimating the serial interval of COVID-19 from 105 pairs of the virus carrier and the infected, we calculate the daily effective reproductive number, R, for each of all 100 Chinese cities with more than 40 cases. Using the daily R values from January 21 to 23, 2020 as proxies of non-intervened transmission intensity, we find, under a linear regression framework for 100 Chinese cities, high temperature and high relative humidity significantly reduce the transmission of COVID-19, respectively, even after controlling for population density and GDP per capita of cities. One degree Celsius increase in temperature and one percent increase in relative humidity lower R by 0.0383 and 0.0224, respectively. This result is consistent with the fact that the high temperature and high humidity significantly reduce the transmission of influenza. It indicates that the arrival of summer and rainy season in the northern hemisphere can effectively reduce the transmission of the COVID-19.

Another study out of the University of Maryland hypothesizes that the virus exists along a very narrow latitude, one that's cold in the winter and spring (although not as severe as at the poles):

We examined climate data from cities with significant community spread of COVID-19 using ERA-5 reanalysis, and compared to areas that are either not affected, or do not have significant community spread.

Findings: 

To date, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by SARS-CoV-2, has established significant community spread in cities and regions along a narrow east west distribution roughly along the 30–50o N' corridor at consistently similar weather patterns consisting of average temperatures of 5-11oC, combined with low specific (3–6 g/kg) and absolute humidity (4–7 g/m3). There has been a lack of significant community establishment in expected locations that are based only on population proximity and extensive population interaction through travel. 

Here's the world temperature map from the study. The black circles represent regions with significant coronavirus transmission. Significantly, they all exist along the green band, with warmer climates less affected:

Theoretically, if we want to protect ourselves from the coronavirus, we must back away from all the climate change efforts we've been making. The Manhattan Contrarian spells out the practical effects of this conclusion:

  • Immediately give up using re-usable tote bags, and go for single use plastic grocery bags. Those reusable tote bags pick up germs and spread them all over the place for days. You need bags that you can use once and get rid of immediately before they infect you and everyone around you. John Tierney has the scoop in today's New York Post: "Researchers have been warning for years about the risks of these [reusable] bags spreading deadly viral and bacterial diseases, but public officials have ignored their concerns, determined to eliminate single-use bags and other plastic products despite their obvious advantages in reducing the spread of pathogens." Tierney has plenty more details at the link, including citations to articles in scientific journals. And while you're at it, those highly sanitary single use plastic straws are also an excellent option to avoid contact between your lips and what may be a contaminated cup or glass.
  • To the extent that you must travel around, you can avoid all common conveyances (planes, trains and buses). Those could be filled with carriers of the virus. Instead, go by yourself in an automobile. Carpool? Forget it. How do you know that your companion is not infected? It's one person per car for the duration.
  • Crank up the thermostat. Researchers in China have determined that the coronavirus spreads most successfully at 8.72 deg C (that's about 48 deg F), and its spread slows progressively the warmer you get from there. "The study, by a team from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou ... [concluded that] the 'virus is highly sensitive to high temperature.'" To be fair, this study was more about outdoor than indoor temperatures; but why take a chance in the environment you can control?

Published with permission from the American Thinker.


  climate change, coronavirus, environmentalism, global warming

Opinion

Will the Vatican stand up to protect and preserve Islam?

It would be ironic if Islam entered into a period of decline, and ill-advised Catholics strove to keep it alive. Unfortunately, it's all quite possible.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 8:58 pm EST
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Pope Francis embraces Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayyeb, Egyptian imam of al-Azhar. dailystar.com
William Kilpatrick
By William Kilpatrick

March 17, 2020 (Turning Point Project) — Suppose the Muslim world were to lose faith in Islam. Suppose that Muslims ignored the Koran, stopped going to mosque and dismissed Muhammad as a bloodthirsty warlord and slave trader. How would the Catholic Church respond? Would Church leaders greet the news enthusiastically, and declare their solidarity with the newly emancipated Iranians, Saudis, and Egyptians? Would they declare their esteem for the millions who had finally thrown off the yoke imposed by a false prophet 1400 years ago?

That’s what one might expect, but don’t be too sure. Given certain Church leaders’ recent enthusiasm for Islam and their campaigns against “Islamophobia,” one can’t help but wonder. Could it be that Church leaders might even be disappointed that Muslims had abandoned their Abrahamic faith?

At first glance, these may seem to be purely academic questions. One could argue that there’s no chance that Muslims are going to abandon Islam. So, why speculate? But, in fact, there are good reasons to entertain them.

One reason to raise the possibility of a loss of faith among Muslims is that it’s happened before and, from a historical perspective, not that long ago. The Muslim world didn’t suffer a total loss of faith in Islam, but its faith was severely weakened.

Some historians say that doubts about Islam began with Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt, and then increased with the downfall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I and Turkey’s subsequent transformation to a secular state under Kemal Atatürk. By the middle of the twentieth century, much of the Muslim world had begun a process of Westernization and secularization. Islam was still practiced, though more out of habit than conviction.

Not everyone was happy with this “Islam Lite,” however. As early as the 1930’s, Islamic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood began plotting to restore pure Mohammedan Islam to its rightful place. Then, in 1979, the slow drift away from Islam was reversed. In the wake of the Iranian Revolution, a revived and expansionist fundamentalism quickly spread through the Middle East. A good account of what happened can be found in BBC reporter Kim Ghattas’ new book Black Wave. Ms. Ghattas describes how, following the clerics’ rise to power in Iran, the eponymous “black wave” of dark hijabs, chadors, and abayas soon engulfed much of the Muslim World.

Yet Ms. Ghattas sees signs that the black wave may be receding as more and more people “rise against the forces of darkness that have impoverished the region...” She’s particularly hopeful that Iranians will throw off their clerical oppressors. Yet another reason to question the viability of Islam in the Middle East. Her hope finds confirmation in a quote from an Iranian Christian leader in the 2019 documentary film, Sheep Among Wolves, Volume II. “Islam is dead,” he declares. The “mosques are empty,” and “no one follows Islam inside of Iran.”

That’s undoubtedly a large exaggeration, but there is a good deal of anecdotal evidence that a turnaround may be underway in Iran. The mission research organization, Operation World, named Iran’s as the fastest-growing evangelical Church in the world. Mohabat News, the country’s Christian news agency, reported that “Christianity has been growing at an exponential rate.” Meanwhile, Open Doors USA reported that there may be up to a million secret believers. And Iran’s Intelligence Minister has admitted that mass conversions are “happening right under our eyes.”

Much of this growth can be attributed to disillusionment with the hardline government. According to a pastor in Sheep Among Wolves, “The best evangelist for Jesus was the Ayatollah Khomeini.” Why so? Because “the ayatollahs brought the true face of Islam to light and people discovered it was a lie.”

The rapid spread of the COVID-19 in Iran has also added fuel to the fire of discontent. The fact that clerics in the city of Qom have refused to close the busy pilgrimage sites despite the demands of public health officials has resulted in increased skepticism about the mullahs.

In 2018, the director of Elam ministries argued that “Iranians have become the most open people to the Gospel.” That may be so, but the conversion of the whole country to Christianity is probably not on the immediate horizon. Still, the possibility that Iran may be moving in that direction brings us back to our original question: How would the Church respond?

Ironically, there are indications that the response might not be enthusiastic. In the first place, many of those who are turning away from Islam are turning to secularism and even to atheism; most of the Iranian converts to Christianity are converting to Evangelical and Pentecostal sects. In the second place, the Vatican has been a rather solid supporter not only of the Iranian regime, but of Islam in general.

In a 2018 Crux article, John Allen wrote: “There are few diplomatic relationships in which the Vatican has invested greater efforts in recent years than the one with Tehran, seeing it as fundamental not only to a series of thorny situations around the world… but also to a broader quest to avoid a much-feared ‘clash of civilizations.’”

Likewise, the Iranian regime is heavily invested in its relationship with Rome — as indicated by the fact that Iran has more diplomats accredited to its Vatican Embassy than any other country except the Dominican Republic. Perhaps the most important sign of alignment with the Tehran regime was the Vatican endorsement of the Iranian nuclear agreement — an endorsement that was strongly seconded by the American bishops.

But it’s not just the regime that Iranian protesters object to. Many are also protesting against the religious ideology that the clerics use to justify their power. During the mass protests in 2018, one popular slogan was, “The people are paupers, while the mullahs live like gods.” During the January 2020 protests following the downing of a Ukraine passenger jet, videos showed students chanting: “We don’t want Islamic Republic.” This, one assumes, does not mean that they are opposed to the idea of a republic, but that they are opposed to one that is based on the religion of Islam.

Unfortunately, in recent decades, those certain Church leaders have positioned themselves as defenders of the Islamic faith. They have repeatedly declared their solidarity with Islam and, despite acres of evidence to the contrary, they continue to maintain that Islam is a religion of peace that has “nothing to do with terrorism.” Not only has Church leadership come to the defense of Islam: it has, arguably, become an enabler of Islam. The spread of Islam into Europe was made possible in part by the European bishops’ lobbying campaign in favor of Muslim migration, and their frequent reminders that Catholics have an obligation to welcome the stranger.

More than that, many Church leaders have committed themselves to the proposition that Islam and Christianity are close cousins — two faiths that share both a common Abrahamic heritage and common theological ground. After all, as Nostra Aetate reminds us, Muslims “revere” Jesus, “honor Mary,” and “value the moral life.”

So, it’s quite possible that instead of standing by oppressed Muslims, Church leadership may adopt a stand-by-your-imam attitude. They have invested heavily in the idea that Christians share a common faith with Islam, and it will be difficult to let go of that idea. On top of that, recent Church documents seem to suggest that “people of the book” — i.e., Muslims and Jews — are not really in need of evangelization. Conceivably, Church leaders might even criticize Protestant evangelicals for alienating Muslims from their authentic faith tradition.

If all of this is difficult to credit, remember that, in recent years, the Vatican entered into a power-sharing agreement with the Communist Party of China. It’s not unthinkable that, if push comes to shove, it would stand with the ayatollahs in Iran rather than with Iranian Christians or disaffected Muslims. In turn, Muslims who are trying to throw off the yoke of Islam might come to see the Catholic Church as simply another oppressive faith — a twin brother of Islam. At a time when Islam is being rejected by more and more Muslims, Catholic leaders should think twice about identifying the Church too closely with Islam.

In the middle of the last century it looked like supremacist Islam was dying a natural death. Then, a relatively small number of true believers managed to fan the dying embers back to life. It would be ironic if, in the twenty-first century, Islam entered into a similar period of decline, and ill-advised Catholics strove to keep it alive.

This article originally appeared in the March 9, 2020 edition of Crisis. It is published here with permission from the Turning Point Project.


  catholic, ecumenism, islam, jihad, pope francis

Opinion

The world’s most prominent tyrants want Joe Biden to be president

Expect various forms of foreign interference into the 2020 U.S. elections from Russia, China, and Iran.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 8:43 pm EST
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Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Kelly Haughton
By Kelly Haughton

March 17, 2020 (American Thinker) — During Sunday's Democrat debate, Biden endorsed Putin's longtime anti-fracking stance that Putin has been promoting in the U.S. and elsewhere in the West. Putin's stance against fracking is grounded in self-interest. Russia's largest exports are oil and natural gas. American fracking has dramatically weakened the market for Russian oil and natural gas and thus the Russian economy.

American frackers have strengthened the president's hand in the Middle East to the point where the president has withdrawn forces from Syria and other locations and left the Russians, Syrians, Saudis, Iranians, Turks, and others to fight among themselves in a giant quagmire. The Saudis have started economic warfare against the Russians and Iranians by increasing production. This will further hurt the Russian and Iranian economies and militaries.

Putin has figured out that Biden would be a better president from the Russian perspective than Trump, and in 2020, he will be supporting Biden for president.

Throughout his first term as president, Trump has been maneuvering to reduce U.S. dependence on China economically and bring back manufacturing jobs to the U.S. This has manifested itself in trade negotiations and tariffs. Biden, on the other hand, has been consistently friendly with the Chinese on trade. We are also curious if Hunter Biden is still managing a portfolio for the Chinese government.

Trump has been tough on China to the point where the Chinese government accusing the U.S. military of starting the Wuhan coronavirus. Xi will be engaged in a U.S.-based propaganda campaign to undermine Trump and support Biden for the rest of 2020.

Obama-Biden negotiated the Iranian nuclear deal greatly favored by the Iranian mullahs. Trump backed out of the deal and imposed strict economic sanctions against the Iranian regime, followed by the killing of the head of the IRGC, a significant player in the regime. Then the IRGC shot down a Ukrainian airliner, and now Iran is enduring one of the worst outbreaks of Wuhan coronavirus. Several senior officials in the Iranian regime have become sick, and some have died. Trump's first term has not been good for the Iranian regime. The regime would like nothing better than to go back to the good old days of Obama-Biden.

Expect various forms of foreign interference into the 2020 U.S. elections from Russia, China, and Iran.

This post first appeared at the American Thinker. It is published here with the author's permission.


  2020 democrat primary, 2020 presidential election, ali khamenei, china, donald trump, iran, joe biden, russia, vladimir putin, xi jinping

Blogs

Young man who threw Pachamama idols into Tiber hospitalized today: prayer needed

Alexander Tschugguel has been hospitalized due to the coronavirus.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 5:27 pm EST
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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Alexander Tschugguel, 26, of Vienna, Austria, who captured the attention of the world for removing the Pachamama idols from a Church in Rome, has been hospitalized today due to having contracted the coronavirus.

Alexander has been at home in bed with fever for nine days and is very weak. He texted me yesterday only to say he was too weak to speak. Today, he was admitted to hospital, and first reports suggest that his life is not in danger.

He and his family is in need of prayer for a full recovery. When his situation became known and people began praying he had the most relief he’s had since feeling unwell.


  alexander tschugguel, coronavirus, pachamama

Blogs

Catholic historian: Our Lady of Fatima’s connection to the coronavirus outbreak

Professor Roberto de Mattei believes now is the time to 'remember the message of Fatima, because the divine punishments, which have already been affecting the Church for many years, are making themselves visible to the whole society.'
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 1:28 pm EST
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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The coronavirus is about to result in a world-wide lockdown. The rapid spread of the virus is unheard of in modern history and results from Italy are staggering. We must recognize this as a chastisement from God.

For the first time in Rome in hundreds of years there will be no celebration of Holy Week. That didn’t happen even during the two World Wars. Not, says Catholic historian Professor Roberto de Mattei, since perhaps when Napoleon invaded Rome at the end of the 18th century.

During a recent interview with LifeSite’s Maike Hickson, professor de Mattei praised the efforts of Italy’s response to the coronavirus while rebuking Great Britain for its approach.

“[Prime Minister] Boris Johnson's position seems to me based on eugenics and Darwinism and I am afraid that it will bring misfortunes to his country,” de Mattei said.

Professor de Mattei also advised Catholics to not forget the importance of keeping their spiritual life in order during this time, and to continue to receive Holy Communion when possible.

I myself find that what priests in Italy are doing to be very interesting. For one, they are saying more masses and restricting admittance to under 50 or so parishioners at each one, allowing for much distance between participants. Moreover, the priests are administering Holy Communion to one Catholic at a time while making sure they are six feet from another. The priest also purifies his fingers in a solution of water and alcohol before administering Holy Communion to the next Catholic. 

There are other innovative solutions proposed by priests in the United States like outdoor masses and “drive-thru” confessions.

To understand the times in which we currently live we must understand the gravity of our anti-God world. There is more sin now than at any other time in history. Moreover, we have the most extreme heresies of all time accepted by a majority of Catholics and pushed by the Pope himself.

Be that as it may, we must have an outlook of joy rather than worry. Indeed, we have the hope of eternal salvation. The prospect of death is not terrifying. It is the only way of entrance into life eternal. 

Professor de Mattei puts this current crisis in the context of the messages of Our Lady of Fatima, saying that this is the moment “to remember the message of Fatima, because the divine punishments, which have already been affecting the Church for many years, are making themselves visible to the whole society.”

And that is perhaps his most interesting comment.

Recall that Our Lady of Fatima spoke about how God is going to punish the world for its crimes by way of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. She also spoke about how she wanted Russia to be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. 

But then, the third part of the Fatima secret, released in 2000, stated the following:

We saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!'. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way;

Angels are the executors of divine punishments on people, as the dramatic vision of the Third Secret of Fatima reminds us.  The Black Death ended with a miraculous intervention of Our Lady via an image of Her painted by St. Luke the Evangelist. As the plague ended, Pope Gregory witnessed angels singing the Regina Caeli and St. Michael the Archangel atop what is now Castel Sant'Angelo sheath a bloody sword.

Despite living in one of the hardest hit countries suffering from coronavirus, professor de Mattei remains hopeful. He tells us to remind one another that everything that happens is “for the triumph of the Church” and that “the closer the punishment is, the closer will be the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary that Our Lady has promised us.”

The solution to all this suffering is Our Lady of Fatima. This is not a battle against flesh and blood but principalities and powers. It is waged first in our own hearts. The formula for success is the following: daily mass where possible, five first Saturdays, three Hail Mary’s, rosary, confession, consecration to Our Lady of ourselves and our families, wearing the scapular, and the intercession of the saints and guardian angels. 

“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph” Our Lady promised. “The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” 

Let’s renew our own consecration to Mary this March 25 – the feast of Her Annunciation where she became the living tabernacle of God, the Ark of the New Covenant. And with that we can say with great confidence to the Eternal Father, “behold not me, but behold the handmaid of the Lord.”

The John-Henry Westen Show is available by video on the show’s YouTube channel and right here on my LifeSite blog.

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  catholic, coronavirus, professor roberto de mattei, rome, the john-henry westen show

Blogs

Keeping calm and carrying on: Living in the UK during this pandemic

We are being encouraged by politicians and pundits to rediscover 'the Blitz spirit' shared by the British during the Second World War. A terrible irony is that those who remember the Blitz are most in danger of succumbing to the virus.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 12:05 pm EST
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Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy
By Dorothy Cummings McLean

EDINBURGH, Scotland, March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― There are no tins of tomatoes at the big supermarket near my home.

There is also no flour and no pasta. I didn’t check for toilet paper because we don’t need any, and I didn’t feel like hanging around. How ironic that I cancelled this morning’s appointment with my Italian tutor only to be in a shop crowded with dozens of strangers. There are now 195 confirmed coronavirus cases in Scotland.

We don’t need toilet paper because I bought a family pack before we left for a trip to Poland in late February. The coronavirus, as we still called it then, had not yet been reported in Edinburgh, but I wasn’t sure the shelves wouldn’t be cleared before we returned. They weren’t, but had I been very clever, I would have bought some flour and stockpiled more tins at once. I don’t remember how I knew, in the last week of February, that there would eventually be panic-buying of “loo roll.” Perhaps it was because I was already watching the virus spread, hoping we could get to Poland and back before it reached my god-daughter’s town. Fortunately, we did. 

The British government has asked us not to “panic-buy” and assured us that the grocery stores have robust delivery systems, but there were two bags of flour on the shelf on Sunday and there were none today. That said, salt has reappeared and there are lots of onions, potatoes, cheese, and meat. However, it has occured to me that the reason people are stockpiling flour, salt, and tins is to avoid having to go to the supermarket in future.  

Yesterday Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, asked the public to work from home, if at all possible. He hasn’t yet closed England’s schools, and schools are still open here in Scotland, which is semi-autonomous from the rest of the United Kingdom. Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has banned assemblies of more than 500 people, but the real question for faithful Christians is whether or not there will be religious services this Sunday. 

On Sunday it seemed surreal that millions of Catholics around the world could no longer go to Mass―and by episcopal fiat, too! This was surely unprecedented in the history of the Church. When Catholicism was illegal in Scotland, Catholics snuck out into the countryside to hear Mass said by “heather priests.” Fortunately, the bishops of Scotland have allowed our churches to stay open. The doctor in my family was unenthusiastic about Mark and me going to Edinburgh’s Traditional Latin Mass on public transport, so we compromised by taking a train and then walking for an hour. I wore white cotton gloves outdoors and another pair indoors, and when I returned home I did as I was told and washed my gloves in a 9:1 solution of hot water and bleach.  

Mass was solemn and beautiful, all the more beautiful because we didn’t know if we would have it next week or any week for God alone knows how long. The homily, if homily it were, was mostly taken up by announcements, including archdiocesan instructions on the reception of Holy Communion and what this meant for us, devotees of the Traditional Latin Mass. 

What it meant was that we did not receive Holy Communion, and there was not a murmur in rebellion. Receiving on the tongue from an experienced priest is no more dangerous to us than receiving in the hand from an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, but given a choice between no reception and no Mass at all, we traditionalists will abstain from receiving. Meanwhile, I prayed that we would be allowed to keep our priest, for on Sunday we believed everyone in Britain over 70 would soon be confined to their homes. Fortunately, no such order has been made for Scotland, and in England and Wales seniors are being encouraged merely to avoid social contacts.

We are being encouraged by politicians and pundits to rediscover “the Blitz spirit” shared by the British during the Second World War. This is often summed up by the popular war-time poster “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Romantic that I am, I find this World War II nostalgia inspiring. There is a terrible irony, however, in that instead of coming together, we’re being asked to stand apart. Another terrible irony is that those who remember the Blitz are most in danger of succumbing to the virus.

I am not particularly frightened of the virus for myself; I’m more frightened of the National Health Service collapsing under the weight of hundreds thousands of people all becoming very sick at once. This would mean other people dying needlessly from conditions that might otherwise have been successfully treated, like hydrocephalus or a difficult labor. As my husband had brain surgery in 2017, has had radiotherapy since then, and is due a brain scan in April, this is a very personal concern. 

Speaking of my husband, he has just telephoned from his workplace to say that there will be a big conference call this afternoon. He is expecting operations to be shut down and to be sent home to work. He is uncertain, but we are growing used to uncertainty. The one thing we really hope and pray for, besides the end to the pandemic, is that we are not deprived of Mass. 

My hope is that our bishops are inspired by the Polish bishops who eventually gave all Catholics there a dispensation from their Sunday obligations but allowed Sunday Masses for congregations of 50. In Edinburgh Catholics who go to the Traditional Latin Mass are a minority among a minority, and on Sunday we ourselves numbered only 70. We are willing to give up a lot―even weekly reception of Holy Communion―to get through this crisis, but we really do not want to give up Sunday Mass.  


  catholic, coronavirus, scotland

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Coronavirus pandemic: God’s punishment or meaningless bad luck?

The current epidemic has exposed how ubiquitous an error in our times is the denial that God is in charge of every last detail.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 10:11 am EST
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Peter Kwasniewski Peter Kwasniewski Follow Dr. Peter
By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — In a remarkable address, Prof. Roberto de Mattei points out the consistency with which the vast majority of bishops have declined to call for supernatural responses to the coronavirus, preferring rather the natural responses that our society exclusively recognizes:

The bishops today not only are not speaking about divine scourges, but they are not even inviting the faithful to pray that God will liberate them from the epidemic. There is a coherence in this. Whoever prays, in fact, asks God to intervene in his life, and thus in the things of the world, in order to be protected from evil and to obtain spiritual and material goods. But why should God listen to our prayers if he is disinterested in the universe created by Him?

De Mattei notes that a certain prominent bishop in Italy had “forcefully reject[ed] the idea that the Coronavirus epidemic or any other collective disaster can be a punishment for humanity. The virus, the bishop believes, is only the effect of nature.” But this is incoherent:

History in reality is a creature of God, like nature, like all that exists, because nothing of what exists can exist apart from God. All that happens in history is foreseen, regulated and ordered by God for all eternity. ... God is the author of nature with its forces and its laws, and he has the power to arrange the mechanism of the forces and laws of nature in such a way as to produce a phenomenon according to the needs of his justice or his mercy. God, who is the first cause above all of all that exists, always makes use of secondary causes in order to effect his plans. Whoever has a supernatural spirit does not stop at the superficial level of things but seeks to understand the hidden design of God that is at work beneath the apparently blind force of nature.

This “hidden design” includes God’s chastisement of human beings for sins, which pertains to all of us, since we are all implicated in the fall of Adam, and no man who has the exercise of reason and free will can claim to be without personal sin (cf. 1 Jn 1:8). The Bible, the Church Fathers and Doctors, and the whole patrimony of Christian theology confess with one voice: God’s Providence is in charge of everything that happens; the physical evils of sickness and death are caused by the moral evil of sin, and are sent as retributive, purgative, and medicinal punishments.

Some would counter with the Gospel of John, where the Lord says a certain man’s blindness was not caused by his sins or his parents’ sins (cf. Jn. 9:2). Yet the same Lord tells us in Luke 13:

There were present, at that very time, some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answering, said to them: Think you that these Galileans were sinners above all the men of Galilee, because they suffered such things? No, I say to you: but unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower fell in Siloe and slew them: think you that they also were debtors above all the men that dwelt in Jerusalem? No, I say to you: but except you do penance, you shall all likewise perish.

Jesus reminds us that punishment justly falls on all of us, and that we must do penance for our sins and the sins of others. The evils of this world are an invitation to reject moral evil; purify our hearts; and return to Him to whom we must, in any case, render an account at the end of our days.

It is only in the Enlightenment (17th–18th centuries) that self-styled philosophers reject, simultaneously, the doctrine of original sin, the doctrine of divine Providence, and the value of penance. Ernst Cassirer noted that the Enlightenment thinkers, despite their great diversity of opinions, all agreed to throw out original sin. For the rationalists, all men are born with a “neutral” human nature, open to either good or evil; men become good or evil based on their upbringing and social influences. If bad things happen, it’s due to chance or personal vice. God, if His existence is acknowledged at all, is merely a clockmaker who builds the cosmic machine and sets it going. It then continues on its own, without His involvement. The picture of the universe we’ve been given by modern science is one in which God plays no intimate role. To those who labor under such an impoverished metaphysics, talk of God willing a tsunami or an earthquake, a plague or a famine, would seem not at all different from Homer talking of petulant Greek gods interfering in the Trojan war. Self-consciously “modern” theology, in turn, has often taken its cue from rationalism: it does not regard the human race as shipwrecked or drowning, as deserving of death and punishment, nor does it see God as intimately present to all things, especially to the creatures made in His image, calling them to redemptive suffering and eternal beatitude.

How radically different is the Christian and Catholic perspective vividly seen in the medieval prayer that the superior general of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Most Rev. Andrzej Komorowski, FSSP, asked the priests of the Fraternity to pray at the end of every public Mass until further notice:

V. Deal not with us, Lord, according to our sins.

R. And take not vengeance on us because of our misdeeds.

V. Help us, O God, our Deliverer.

R. And for Thy name’s sake, O Lord, free us.

V. Remember not, O Lord, our sins of old.

R. Hasten to us with Thy compassion, for we are become exceeding poor.

V. St. Sebastian, pray for us.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.

R. And let my cry come unto thee.

V. The Lord be with you.

R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray. Vouchsafe to hear us, O God, our only salvation! And through the intercession of the glorious and blessed Mary, Mother of God and ever Virgin, of Thy blessed martyr, Sebastian and of all the saints, deliver Thy people from the terrors of Thy wrath, and restore their confidence by the outpouring of Thy compassion.

Be moved to pity, O Lord, at our earnest entreaties, and heal the illnesses of body and soul; so that experiencing Thy forgiveness we may ever rejoice in Thy blessing.

We beseech thee, O Lord, grant us a hearing as we devoutly raise our petitions to Thee, and graciously turn away the epidemic of plague which afflicts us; so that mortal hearts may recognize that these scourges proceed from Thine indignation and cease only when Thou art moved to mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigned with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Looking at these truly robust and Catholic prayers from the Age of Faith, we have to ask: why did such prayers get the axe after Vatican II? (This one is from the old Rituale Romanum, which did, in fact, get the axe...although, thankfully, it is coming back into use in more and more places.) Either the Church was right for all those centuries to pray this way — lex orandi, lex credendi — or she was wrong to do so. If she was right, then we today must repent of the destruction visited upon our own liturgical heritage and take up our “law of prayer” again in humility and trust. If she was wrong, however, why are we still Catholic? It would be more intellectually honest to become a secular humanist, or, for that matter, a nihilist.

This is really the fundamental question that the liturgical reform raises over and over again — once one becomes aware of the stark differences between old and new.

What were Catholics of olden times thinking during periods of sickness and trial? Here is what the great Mother Mectilde de Bar (1614–1698) wrote to a sick lay sister on Pentecost Tuesday, May 23, 1695, as recorded by another nun:

We must remain in the situation in which God places us, bless Him always, and always consent, right, left, on all sides; this is what we have to do. My poor Sister, the good God sends us back again [to health] in order to do penance; but we must do it in His way and not in ours… The great secret to always being content is to adapt to God’s way, to His mode, and in everything that happens — good or bad, without making a distinction — to see always the will of God in God Himself, and God Himself in His will. Never view anything as being outside of God, not even a little prick of your finger, or any small grief which in the morning you expect to happen during the day. See everything in God, and stop neither at what is human nor at secondary causes; instead be attached to God’s pleasure and to His will, so as to conform to it. Let us not waste time, the end draws nigh.

The current epidemic has exposed how ubiquitous an error in our times is the denial that God is in charge of every last detail of the universe and that He wills or permits all things for the punishment and reformation of sinners and for the merit of the just. Accepting the sovereignty of God as Mother Mectilde counsels is fundamental for the spiritual life; otherwise, we are truly “at sea,” without living faith in God’s care for us and His power to save us and to perfect us through suffering. Even the Lord Jesus trod this path at the Father’s behest: “It was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation [Christ] perfect through suffering” (Heb. 2:10).


  atheism, catholic, coronavirus, enlightenment, plague, prayer, quarantine, repentance, secular humanism