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UK govt orders ‘places of worship’ shut down, Catholic bishops comply

Visiting a church to pray does not fit the criteria for leaving home.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 8:18 pm EST
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Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy
By Dorothy Cummings McLean

EDINBURGH, Scotland, March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced March 23 that Great Britain was being locked down and places of worship would be closed. 

“To ensure compliance with the government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately close all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship,” Johnson said.

Mixed messages from the government, however, had British Catholics wondering if they were allowed to pray privately in their churches or not. 

A government statement dated March 23 said places of worship should remain open for private prayer. 

”Places of worship should remain open for solitary prayer. Live streaming of a service without audience would be permissible,” said the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. 

The Diocese of Westminster addressed the confusion in a message it published late this morning. 

“Following some confusion in the guidance published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government regarding the opening of churches, where it states that 'places of worship should remain open for solitary prayer,' the bishops' conference (of England and Wales) has clarified that churches must close and remain closed,” the diocese stated.  

“The instruction is very clear on the occasions when someone can leave home ... and none of these four specific reasons for leaving home concur with the visiting of a church for solitary prayer,” it continued.  

“In addition, keeping churches open could undermine the desire of the government for people to remain at home, the very fact of them being open may draw people out of their homes, many of which would be the most vulnerable to infection.”

The diocese, for which Cardinal Vincent Nichols is the ordinary, indicated that a spokesman for the Church had explained to the government why churches must be shut. 

“Professor Jim McManus has spoken with a senior civil servant and it was quite clear they just had not thought through the issues of infection and security of churches and when he made these points clear, they were appalled and agreed they had made a mistake,” the Westminster diocese’s document said.

“Keeping churches open sends an utterly inconsistent message and therefore they must be closed for the benefit of others and stopping infection.” 

Journalist Damian Thompson noticed that it could have been the Church, rather than the government, who was most interested in closing.  

“This is interesting,” he tweeted. 

“Is it possible that the bishops advised the government that the churches should be closed?

Both the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales and the Catholic Bishops of Scotland had already announced that Catholic churches would be shut. 

Cardinal Nichols, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and Archbishop of Westminster, released a message saying that closing the churches was “the right thing to do to save lives.”

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon supported the British Prime Minister’s decision to suspend the freedom of Britons to assemble for at least the next three weeks, and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Scotland released a statement saying they had taken their cue from her.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 virus in Scotland demands from all of us a response which recognizes the serious threat to all people, especially the elderly and those with underlying illnesses, and our duty of care to them,” they wrote. 

“Having given due consideration to the words of the First Minister this evening, we, the Bishops of Scotland, agree that our churches should be closed during this period of national emergency for the common good,” they continued. 

“There will be no celebrations of baptism or marriage, but we will continue to offer prayers for those who have died and for their families who mourn their passing.” 

“The Church is not only a building but the people of God at prayer wherever they may find themselves. We encourage all Catholics and all people of faith to pray unceasingly  in their homes for our nation at this time in particular for our political leaders, our healthcare professionals and all those suffering from the virus. May this lived Lenten experience lead us to new life and healing at Easter.” 

There was no indication, however, that there will be public liturgies to celebrate Easter. 

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh told LifeSiteNews that they were taking their lead from the Bishops Conference of Scotland. 

“This is a national question,” he said. 

“It is, of course, constantly under review – we all want our churches back open asap.” 

A LifeSiteNews reporter attempted to enter a Catholic church in the archdiocese that was open for prayers earlier this week but found it locked.


  archdiocese of st. andrews and edinburgh, boris johnson, catholic, catholic bishops of england and wales, catholic bishops of scotland, coronavirus, damian thompson, diocese of westminster, great britain, nicola sturgeon, scotland, vincent nichols

News

40 Days for Life suspended for coronavirus, abortionists continue operating

Leader Shawn Carney lamented that the various state regulations throughout the country had become impossible to manage.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 7:00 pm EST
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Shawn Carney, president and CEO of 40 Days for Life. 40 Days for Life / YouTube
Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug
By Doug Mainwaring

PETITION: Urge state governors to stop abortions during coronavirus crisis Sign the petition here.

March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The “physical vigils” of the 40 Days for Life campaign — the actual presence of pro-life individuals who pray outside abortion facilities in the days and weeks leading up to Easter — have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Shawn Carney, president of 40 Days for Life, made the announcement via an online statement and on YouTube.  

“The regulations and the different changes and adjustments we kept having to make in different regions and countries throughout the world was just becoming unmanageable and out of protection for our volunteers, I made the decision that we are suspending the vigils,” explained Carney.

“It was very difficult to suspend the most vital part of a 40 Days for Life campaign for these remaining days, but we needed to do it,” he said. 

“Now we shift to — ultimately — relying on the foundation of 40 Days for Life, which is prayer and fasting,” added Carney.

As that shift is suddenly being engineered, Carney has initiated a daily video blog in order to remain in contact with those committed to the organization’s mission.  

“Insanity” of abortion industry during coronavirus pandemic

Carney said the response to the coronavirus pandemic by the abortion industry has been “insane” and that he has joined other national pro-life leaders in urging Health and Human Services (HSS) to close every abortion facility across the country because “by definition, they are not essential medical providers.”

The Abortion Federation recently issued a statement claiming otherwise:

As states and municipalities enact measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, more non-essential businesses will be instructed — or required — to close. At the same time, hospitals are preparing for a surge in COVID-19 cases and increased strain on their staff, resources, and systems, and will likely begin indefinitely postponing non-essential or elective procedures. During this public health crisis, pregnancy care, including abortion care, remains an essential health service. The National Abortion Federation (NAF) calls on leaders to ensure that outpatient abortion clinics can remain open and urges hospitals to continue to provide abortion care.

“Abortion businesses in Ohio even defied a state order to cancel non-essential surgeries,” noted Carney in a statement

“That means doctors, nurses, supplies, equipment and facilities that could be used to save lives from Coronavirus are instead being used to end lives, $400 at a time,” he said. 

“Meanwhile, women hospitalized during a botched abortion will compete with COVID-19 victims for a limited supply of hospital beds,” warned Carney.

Rhonda Jones, a pro-life activist in Florida, was praying outside a local abortion facility on Tuesday when she heard the news that 40 Days of Life was suspending “physical” vigils.

Jones spoke to LifeSiteNews about how sad it is that 40 Days for Life has been cut short, “weeks before 40 days are over,” but suggested hopefully that this new challenge could be turned into an opportunity where many more individuals could participate through prayer.


  40 days for life, abortion, coronavirus, national abortion federation naf, prayer

News

Public Mass suspended, churches closed in countries around the globe due to coronavirus

Liquor stores are considered 'essential,' but worship is not in most countries during the pandemic.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 6:58 pm EST
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Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy
By Dorothy Cummings McLean

PRAYER PLEDGE: Rally around the daily Rosary to stop the coronavirus Sign the petition here.

March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― Catholic shepherds around the world have not only stopped public Masses, but some have even closed churches because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. In some cases, churches and other places of worship have been forced to close by state authority while wine and beer stores, cannabis stores, and other so-called “essential services” have been allowed to remain open. 

By March 20, every diocese of the United States had suspended public Masses. 

Public Masses have also been suspended across Canada, from the Archdiocese of St. John’s, Newfoundland in the east to the Diocese of Victoria in the west. 

Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, ordered all the churches and chapels in his archdiocese to be closed to reflect “increased restrictions” by the government. 

“In order to assist in limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we have already cancelled the public celebration of the sacraments, including the Eucharist. In view of the increased restrictions on public activity, I am now asking you to close your church and any chapel, even for individual prayer, effective immediately,” he said. 

In Mexico, bishops have recommended the suspension of all public Masses, and this has already been done in the Diocese of Jalisco and today in the Archdiocese of Mexico City. 

Nicaragua has also suspended public Masses. In Brazil, 36 archdioceses, 113 dioceses, five prelatures, and the personal apostolic administration of St. John Mary Vianney have suspended public worship, whereas a small minority of dioceses are still offering public Masses. In Argentina, the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires has suspended public worship. 

The situation is even more dire in the United Kingdom, where not only have all public Masses been suspended, churches have been locked and shut so that the faithful cannot go into them for private prayer. The United Kingdom is now in a state of “lockdown,” with its population of over 66 million forbidden to leave their homes except for essential work, necessary shopping, medical business, or exercise outdoors. In the Republic of Ireland, all public Masses were suspended by St. Patrick’s Day.  

On the European continent, the bishops of France have suspended all public Masses, although the civil authorities have not banned all religious gatherings. In France, people are allowed to visit a church as long as no more than 20 are there at once. The Society of St. Pius X, a fraternity of priests with irregular canonical status, is continuing to allow congregations of up to 20 people to assist at their liturgies. In Spain, 59 of 70 dioceses had suspended public worship by March 16. In Portugal, the bishops suspended all public Masses 10 days ago

In Holland, there are still public weekday Masses to be found, with the stipulation that worshippers maintain a distance of 1.5 meters (approximately 4 feet, 9 inches). However, Saturday evening Masses and Sunday Masses are closed to the faithful and Holy Week ceremonies will be held behind closed doors.

In Belgium, there will be no public Masses until April 3 at the earliest. In Germany, the bishops conference has instructed each diocese to act according to local state instructions, and most dioceses have suspended public worship. In Austria, public worship, though not forbidden by the state, has been suspended. In Switzerland, the state has forbidden public worship, and public Masses have been suspended by the bishops.   

In Italy, all public Masses are officially suspended, although a public Mass for Laetare Sunday was filmed within St. Peter’s Basilica itself this week. In Malta, all public Masses are suspended. Public worship has also been suspended in Hungary. 

In Poland, there are still public Masses, as long as congregations are limited to 20 people, but the Polish government requested today that congregations be reduced to five people. In Estonia, all public Masses have been suspended. In Russia, public Masses have been suspended in Moscow and St. Petersburg. However, public worship continues in the Saratov diocese, in southwestern Russia, in the Novosibirsk diocese in western Siberia, and in the Irkutsk diocese in eastern Siberia with dispensations for the sick and the rest of the faithful counselled to be prudent in their worship.    

In Asia, public Masses are suspended in Singapore, Malaysia, and in parts of the Philippines. In India, public Masses were suspended in Mumbai after a lawsuit by a lawyer. Today, India is reportedly ordering its people into “lockdown” at midnight after a spike in coronavirus cases. At least some dioceses have suspended public Masses in Japan.

The bishops of New Zealand have suspended all public Masses, as have several bishops in Australia.  

Bishops’ conferences, dioceses and even individual priests around the world are seeking to minister to the faithful by broadcasting and/or live-streaming their private or semi-private Masses. In addition, many bishops are encouraging their priests to give Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Reconciliation to individual parishioners while taking precautions to keep both the faithful and themselves from disease. Funerals are also being permitted albeit with small congregations or even limited to immediate family. In many places, churches are being left open so that the faithful can pray privately in them. 

In their statement about new restrictions on public worship because of the pandemic,  the Austrian Bishops Conference wrote in defense of churches remaining open.  

“Parish churches should, if possible, be kept open as places of hope -- also in times of restrictions with regard to leaving the home,” they wrote.  

“They are available for all people for individual prayers and thus are part of the provision of spiritual welfare, for the good of the entire population.”

With files from LifeSiteNews’ Matthew Hoffman, Maike Hickson, and Jeanne Smits


  bishops, catholic, coronavirus, lockdown, mass restrictions, sacraments

News

Texas bishop calls Communion ‘ESSENTIAL’ as US bishops suppress public Masses

'Receiving the Body of Christ is ESSENTIAL to our life in Christ,' Bishop Joseph Strickland tweeted. 'HE IS OUR DAILY BREAD.'
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 6:43 pm EST
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Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas.
Paul Smeaton Paul Smeaton Follow Paul
By Paul Smeaton

TYLER, Texas, March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Joseph E. Strickland of Tyler, Texas has in the past 24 hours used Twitter to declare that participation at Mass is essential to “our life in Christ” and called on people to do penance in response to the coronavirus.

The public celebration of Mass has now been canceled in many parts of the world due to the pandemic, and many churches have also been closed altogether.

Last week, Strickland said Mass would not be celebrated publicly in his own diocese until further notice and that an update would be provided on April 1. He said he had made the decision “[h]aving consulted medical experts and heeding the guidance of the civil authorities and public health professionals regarding the critical need to limit gatherings to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease, including the guidelines issued by the President of the United States in this time of national emergency.”

Strickland posted yesterday: “Let us heed the lessons we are being given.  1. The Eucharistic Liturgy & participation in it are ESSENTIAL to our life in Christ. 2. Receiving the Body of Christ is ESSENTIAL to our life in Christ. HE IS OUR DAILY BREAD. As bishop I will seek EVERY POSSIBLE MEANS to share HIM!”

Earlier today, the bishop called for repentance in response to the pandemic.

“PEOPLE OF THE WORLD FALL TO YOUR KNEES. Fall to your knees, beg forgiveness of your sins...SIN is real, beg God’s Mercy. Stop worshiping yourself, stop worshiping creation,stop worshiping your desires, fall to your knees & worship God, Father, Son & Holy Spirit. REPENT!” he tweeted.

Strickland later clarified that he was aware that he must lead the way in making acts of repentance, writing, “Just to be clear as a bishop I must be the first to fall to my knees, repent of my sins & beg God’s Mercy.....the shepherd must lead in humble service…..”

This past Saturday, Strickland stationed himself at the busiest intersection in Tyler and blessed people as they passed in their cars with the Blessed Sacrament held aloft in a monstrance.


  catholic, coronavirus, diocese of tyler, eucharist, joseph strickland, texas

News

Traditional Catholics attend outdoor ‘parking lot’ mass amid coronavirus

Hundreds of Catholics sat in their cars and followed along in their missals as Fr. David Gillilan of the Society of St. Pius X offered Mass outside.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 6:29 pm EST
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Stephen Kokx Stephen Kokx Follow Stephen
By Stephen Kokx

PRAYER PLEDGE: Rally around the daily Rosary to stop the coronavirus Sign the petition here.

ALLENDALE, Michigan, March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Hundreds of Catholics from across Michigan flocked to the small town of Allendale this weekend to attend from inside their vehicles the only public Mass offered in the entire western part of the state. 

Fr. David Gillilan of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) endured chilly 30° temperatures Sunday morning as he said what some are calling a “parking lot mass” from a wooden altar set up on the porch of the rectory located behind St. Margaret Mary’s Catholic Church.

While no sermon was given and the choir didn’t sing, those who went to the Mass said it was as reverent and as holy as any other Sunday liturgy. “It was sort of like Ireland and the old Mass rocks,” one man who knelt on the concrete outside during the service said. “It was a pretty cool experience.”

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The SSPX is a pious union of more than 600 traditional Catholic priests. Founded in Switzerland in 1970, the group maintains that the crisis in the Church is a direct result of the Second Vatican Council. It also claims that “supplied jurisdiction” allows its priests the freedom to operate outside the authority of ordinary diocesan bishops. 

Although Catholics can fulfill their Sunday obligation at a Society chapel, and validly and licitly get married and confess their sins to an SSPX priest, many theologians still consider the group to have an “irregular” canonical status. Relations between Rome and the Society on the latter’s “normalization” are a frequent point of discussion among traditional Catholics. Some believe that it would help defeat modernism in the Church, while others, like the SSPX “Resistance,” believe that it would result in the Society compromising their faith.

On a normal weekend, St. Margaret Mary’s sees upwards of 200 laity at its 9:00 A.M. Sunday Mass. According to one of the ushers who helped direct cars to their parking spots, Sunday’s liturgy saw an increase of more than two dozen new attendees who don’t regularly go to the chapel. 

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One of the possible reasons for the uptick is that Catholics not only in Michigan, but throughout the United States have been left without access to the sacraments, as the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in most every American bishop canceling public Masses in his diocese.

In order to help maintain the spiritual well-being of their parishioners, Catholic priests are resorting to drive-thru confessions, outdoor adoration, and broadcasting Mass online. For its part, LifeSite has launched a rosary crusade that is being live-streamed on the LifeSite Connect app. Download the app today by clicking here, and you’ll be able to pray the rosary with Fr. Anthony Pillari every day at 12:00 P.M. EDT.

On Monday, March 23, Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, issued an order putting the state on lockdown for the next three weeks. She previously restricted public gatherings of more than 50 people but exempted religious communities from being punished if they violate that limit.

Fr. Jurgen Wegner, the district superior of the Society of St. Pius X’s American district, released a statement on March 14 indicating the SSPX is offering a “continuous Mass” for protection during the coronavirus pandemic. He also said Society-run chapels in the U.S. would “follow the lawful government orders” that are handed down.

Society churches are already implementing changes in order to abide by state guidelines and health concerns while ensuring that the faithful can receive the sacraments. In Ontario, an SSPX chapel added a third Mass time in order to keep attendance below 50. In Mukwanago, Wisconsin, a chapel held Mass outside in front of the church while also hosting an additional afternoon liturgy at 4:00 P.M. on top of the normal two Masses offered in the morning. At St. Margaret Mary’s Sunday, separate kneelers were placed six feet apart for the distribution of Holy Communion.

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Fr. Gillilan told LifeSite he doesn’t know for certain if another parking lot Mass will be necessary. During his sermon at the Saturday evening liturgy, he preached about how the Church has lived through far worse times but that this outbreak should remind Catholics to be grateful for the sacraments and to not take them for granted. 


  catholic, coronavirus, latin mass, mass, society of st. pius x, sspx

News

Bishops will re-consecrate Portugal to Immaculate Heart to fight coronavirus

The prayer of consecration will be pronounced by Cardinal António Marto, Bishop of Leiria-Fatima.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 6:11 pm EST
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Ricardo Perna / Shutterstock.com
Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

PORTUGAL, March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Faced with the coronavirus crisis, the Church of Portugal will renew its consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, at the end of the 6:30 P.M. rosary (1:30 P.M. New York time). Since the announcement of this initiative by the bishops of Portugal on Saturday, the bishops of Spain have asked to join this initiative. Following their request, the Portuguese episcopate this Monday offered the bishops’ conferences of the world to join in this “act of devotion.”

The prayer of consecration will be pronounced by Cardinal António Marto, Bishop of Leiria-Fatima.

It will take place in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord. The ceremony will be broadcast live on the online page of the Shrine of Fatima, and, in Portugal, on television, on the radio, and on Christian-inspired digital platforms.

“All the dioceses will be united in the prayer of the Rosary for the intentions of the whole world and especially for Portugal, in this dramatic situation we are going through because of the Covid-19 coronavirus,” said a statement from the Permanent Council of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (CEP) published last Saturday.

On October 20, 2019, the Bishops of Portugal consecrated the Catholic Church to the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the closing Mass of the missionary year at the Shrine of Fatima, also marking 175 years of the Apostleship of Prayer in Portugal.

The Shrine's website recalled that the first consecration of Portugal to the Immaculate Heart of Mary took place on May 13, 1931, eight months after the official recognition of the apparitions by the Bishop of Leiria, at the end of the first national pilgrimage of the Portuguese episcopate to Fatima. Before the consecration, the cardinal-patriarch, D. Manuel Gonçalves Cerejeira, declared:

The Bishops of Portugal, your pastors, are gathered here today to thank Our Lady of Fatima for the visit she has deigned to make to our land. In order that the ceremony of thanksgiving may be complete, they will consecrate their work and the destiny of Portugal to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This consecration complements the national consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus made three years ago by the Portuguese Episcopate. By descending to Fatima, Our Lady made this place the new Portuguese Bethlehem. If in Bethlehem Our Lady gave the world Jesus, Jesus who is Truth, Life, Forgiveness and Peace, by coming down to Fatima, she gave us a new gift of her son.

Fatima has become the national shrine from which she repeats to all peoples: do whatever my Son tells you. Mother of God, we received Jesus only through your hands.

At the end of this speech, the cardinal pronounced the prayer of consecration. Later, in October 1942, the year in which the 25th anniversary of the apparitions was celebrated, Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary with a radio message.

Referring to the ceremony next Wednesday, March 25, the Shrine’s website continues:

The Heart of Mary presented itself to Lucia from the very beginning, from the second apparition, as a refuge and a way that leads to God. Again, in July, after the vision of hell, she reaffirmed this by offering consecration to her Immaculate Heart as a means of conversion and reparation. Thus devotion to the Heart of Mary becomes, especially with the request for consecration of Russia and all that it would symbolize, an expression of the presence of God that accompanies the drama of human history, inviting believers to another vision of history, projected onto an eschatological dimension. In Pontevedra and Tuy, in the visions that closed the event of Fatima, the call to consecration was renewed, with the Reparatory Communion of the first Saturdays which is associated with it.

AciDigital announced that the bishops of Portugal will gladly accept requests from other bishops’ conferences in the world to join the consecration on Wednesday.

The requests will need to be made by the presidents of the bishops’ conferences or by the secretaries of these conferences on behalf of the presidents. They should be addressed to Dom Manuel José Macário do Nascimento Clemente, cardinal-patriarch of Lisbon, or to the general secretary of the Portuguese bishops’ conference, Fr. Manuel Joaquim Gomes Barbosa, at the following e-mail address: [email protected]

AciDigital gives further details for the foreign bishops.


  catholic, coronavirus, immaculate heart of mary, portugal

News

Coronavirus relief negotiations resume after Dems’ lefty wish list blows up

Liberals wanted to add items such as tax credits for green energy that have nothing to do with helping individuals and businesses.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 5:39 pm EST
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Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democrats drew national ire this weekend when they rejected a tentative deal for a coronavirus relief package in favor of a new new bill filled with left-wing agenda items, but as of Tuesday afternoon there are signs Democrats might already regret the stunt.

On Sunday, the Senate was slated to vote on a $1.6 trillion bill containing $75 billion for hospitals across the country, $1,200 checks to every American making below $75,000 a year, and financial aid to businesses that have been forced to indefinitely shut down in the interest of containing the virus’ spread. 

Before the vote, however, Pelosi announced that she wanted to draft her own plan instead of presiding over House feedback to the Senate version, leading to the vote deadlocking at 47-47.

Democrats publicly complained that the Senate bill needed additional provisions for food stamps, expanded emergency leave, and unemployment insurance. But details soon emerged about the contents of Pelosi’s 1,119-page proposal, many of which were entirely unrelated to the coronavirus response.

Those items include greater collective-bargaining powers for unions, new fuel-emission standards for airlines, expanded tax credits for green energy, mandates for states to allow early voting and same-day voter registration, a bailout for the U.S. Postal Service, and automatic extension of non-immigrant visas.

The development was met with swift and fierce backlash from Republicans and others who wanted a no-frills package focused on the immediate crisis. The negative feedback may have been enough to get Democrats to reconsider; Politico reported that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has returned to the bargaining table with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and White House representatives.

“There are lots of good things here,” Schumer said, predicting that lingering disagreements could be resolved in a matter of hours. “In the last few days, we have made huge progress in achieving these goals.” Pelosi added, “There is real optimism that we could get something done in the next few hours.”

“We’re trying to finalize all the documents, going through a lot of complicated issues, and we're making a lot of progress,” agreed Trump administration Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland said the timeline for a vote would be “as soon as possible.”

Readers can click here for LifeSiteNews’ live updates on the coronavirus and its impact all over the world.


  abortion, chuck schumer, congress, coronavirus, democrats, nancy pelosi, trump administration

News

Top pro-life leader: coronavirus pandemic is ‘chastisement’ for sin of abortion

'The coronavirus is a chastisement for, amongst other things, the killing of innocent children in the womb'
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 5:32 pm EST
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John Smeaton addresses the Rome Life Forum in Rome, May 6, 2016. Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews
Martin Bürger Follow Martin
By Martin Bürger

LONDON, England, March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – John Smeaton, Chief Executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, the first and largest pro-life organization in the United Kingdom, has called the coronavirus pandemic a “chastisement” for abortion and other sins.

“Boris Johnson’s government does not realise that the coronavirus is a chastisement for, amongst other things, the killing of innocent children in the womb,” he wrote on Facebook March 23.

His comments were made after the government had announced that due to the coronavirus outbreak, women would no longer have to go to a hospital or to have a medical abortion. A spokesperson of the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care has since walked back the announcement and said, “This was published in error. There will be no changes to abortion regulations.”

Nonetheless, LifeSiteNews followed up with Smeaton to properly understand his remarks.

While “it’s a prudential judgement whether a particular terrible disaster is a chastisement,” the pro-life leader said that there are a number of aspects that make a connection between the current pandemic and its characterization as a chastisement plausible.

Specifically, he mentioned “the deprivation from Catholics worldwide of the Holy Eucharist,” which he said was “unprecedented.” He continued that “it reminds us painfully of the shameful abuse of the Body and Blood of Our Lord which is commonly observed at Masses throughout the world, in particular at Novus Ordo Masses where Communion in the hand has led to countless sacrileges taking place.”

Smeaton explained how abortion has killed “between one to two billion” people in the world in the last 50 years. “That’s more people killed than all the people killed in all the wars in the whole of recorded human history.”

Abortions affect not only the little baby, whose life is taken away. “Every one of these children was killed in the heart of an individual family so each abortion has the possibility of darkening the consciences of many more than one person,” Smeaton said, describing the consequences.

Another point mentioned was the promotion of the LGBT agenda in schools, “not least by individual Catholic bishops and by, for example, the entire Conference of Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.” Smeaton called this “a sin that’s even worse than abortion and might well provoke God’s anger in a terrible chastisement.”

“Countless church officials, even at the highest level of the Church, are encouraging sins (not only, I should say, in the form of the LGBT agenda) against which Our Lady of Fatima particularly warned Jacinta, during visions received by her between December 1919 and February 1920, pretty much exactly 100 years ago: ‘More souls go to hell for the sins of the flesh than for any other reason.’”

In his conversation with LifeSiteNews, Smeaton repeatedly referred to the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal. In 1917, she had told the three children that if people did not stop offending God, he would punish the world “by means of war, hunger and persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father.”

“Our Lady’s message was not given to the ‘learned and the clever,’” the British pro-life leader emphasized. Since it was given to three little children, “it’s therefore perfectly legitimate for simple laymen like myself to make such a connection” between the coronavirus outbreak and the notion of a chastisement, “if there are reasonable grounds for doing so.”

As far as historical precedents for chastisements are concerned, Smeaton pointed to remarks made by Italian historian Roberto de Mattei.

He observed parallels between the 21st century and the 14th century, which was ravaged by famine, plagues, and war all over Europe. As LifeSiteNews reported, many great saints taught that these were “signs of God’s chastisement.”

“Saint Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444) admonished: Tria sunt flagella quibus Dominus castigat: there are three scourges with which God chastises: war, plague, and famine,” de Mattei said. 

“Saint Bernardine belongs to a number of saints like Catherine of Siena, Bridget of Sweden, Vincent Ferrer, Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, who warned how throughout history natural disasters have always accompanied the infidelities and apostasy of nations.”

Smeaton made sure to explain that “the whole of mankind is punished by sin – by both original sin and by individual sins.” As Christ took our sins upon himself, “we are called to share in Christ’s sufferings for the sins of mankind.”

He said that “Pro-life leaders, myself included, can be guilty of all sorts of sins and we must all examine our consciences, but I can honestly say that my comment that the coronavirus is a chastisement is based on reasonable grounds, of the kind I’ve mentioned, and not self-interest.”

The pro-life leader said he respects fellow Catholics who are careful about calling a particular “war or plague or persecution” a chastisement, as long as they give reasons. 

“Perhaps bishops who say that it’s not a chastisement are being cynical – particularly if they don’t give their reasons for using that term which seems intended to be a little insulting,” he said.


  abortion, chastisement, coronavirus, john smeaton, society for the protection of unborn children spuc

News

US House resolution denounces Chinese Communist gov’t for mishandling of coronavirus

The Chinese government intentionally downplayed the risks of the virus, wouldn't cooperate with international health authorities, and censored doctors and journalists, the resolution says.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 5:16 pm EST
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Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug
By Doug Mainwaring

WASHINGTON, DC, March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A resolution introduced in the U.S House of Representatives condemns the Chinese Communist government for its mishandling of and misinformation about the coronavirus outbreak which has led to a worldwide pandemic and threatens to topple the economies of many nations.

The bipartisan resolution asserts that China “made multiple, serious mistakes in the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak that heightened the severity and spread of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which include the Chinese government's intentional spread of misinformation to downplay the risks of the virus, a refusal to cooperate with international health authorities, internal censorship of doctors and journalists and malicious disregard for the health of ethnic minorities.”

The resolution, introduced by Rep. Jim Banks, R-IN, identifies many specific missteps of the Chinese Communist Party and cites a study by the University of Southampton, all of which were reported by LifeSiteNews last week

The University of Southampton study found that the spread of the coronavirus now holding much of the world hostage could have been substantially reduced if Chinese authorities had acted more swiftly and had been more forthcoming in their reporting during its early stages.  

The results suggest that if interventions had been staged three weeks earlier the number of cases of COVID-19 would have been reduced by 95 percent.

Currently, nearly 400,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide, resulting in over 17,000 deaths. Those numbers increase by the hour.

The resolution calls on the Chinese Government to:

  • Publicly state that there’s no evidence that COVID-19 originated anywhere else but China;
  • Denounce the baseless conspiracy that the United States Army placed COVID-19 in Wuhan;
  • Revoke its expulsion of American journalists;
  • End its detainment of Uyghur Muslims and other persecuted ethnic minorities; and
  • End all forced labor programs.

The resolution condemns:

  • The Chinese government’s censorship of doctors and journalists during the early days of the outbreak;
  • The Chinese government’s refusal to allow scientists from the Centers of Disease Control to assist its response to COVID-19 for over a month after cooperation was offered, needlessly endangering the lives of its own citizens and hampering the United States’ early attempts to learn more about COVID-19; and
  • China’s National Health Commission’s duplicitous denial of the person-to-person transmissibility of COVID-19.

It also calls for World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to retract highly misleading statements of support for the Chinese Government’s response to COVID-19, especially his praise for the “commitment from [China’s] top leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated.” 

The resolution comes as the Chinese Communist Party continues to assert its “success” in stopping the virus in its tracks is a model for other countries to follow.  

“Learn from China,” is the latest Party line, according to Steven Mosher, an internationally recognised authority on China.  

Mosher said that no one should believe Communist China’s claim that the coronavirus is under control. It’s “just one more piece of Chinese propaganda to add to the ever-growing pile of lies that Beijing has been telling these past three months.” 

The resolution can be read here.  


  china, coronavirus

News

Pro-life leaders to public health officials: Response to COVID-19 shouldn’t promote abortion

'While surgery centers postpone elective and diagnostic procedures, abortion centers are churning out surgical and chemical abortions...'
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 4:27 pm EST
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LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

PETITION: Urge state governors to stop abortions during coronavirus crisis Sign the petition here.

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Today the leaders of national and state-based pro-life groups sent a letter to Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, calling on all public health officials to oppose the promotion of abortion amidst the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The letter reads in part: 

“While we are in a hectic race to save lives, Planned Parenthood and other powers in the abortion industry remain insistent on taking the lives of innocent unborn children. While surgery centers postpone elective and diagnostic procedures, abortion centers are churning out surgical and chemical abortions and putting women, especially the poor, at risk. Their continued operation depletes sorely needed personal protective equipment and leads to complications that will further overwhelm already overextended emergency rooms. The abortion industry is compounding one crisis with another. Therefore, we urge public officials to use their broad emergency authority to safeguard against the extreme abortion agenda.”

The letter outlines ways that public health officials can resist the abortion lobby’s agenda including:

  • Ensuring that emergency response funds are not diverted to the abortion industry;
  • Urging the abortion industry to cease operations and join other healthcare providers in donating their PPE (personal protection equipment) and other equipment to coronavirus response;
  • Ensure that telemedicine abortion is not expanded during the crisis and maintain FDA limits on dispensing of chemical abortion;
  • Continue actions to stop illegal mail-order sale of chemical abortion; and
  • Promote medically accurate and supportive information for women that counters the inaccurate and exploitative messaging coming from an abortion industry all too happy to use the current pandemic to scare women and families into abortion.


The letter was signed more than 50 pro-life leaders, including Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of SBA List; Penny Young Nance, President of Concerned Women for America LAC; Donna Harrison M.D., Executive Director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life; Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life America; and Lila Rose, President of Live Action.

The abortion lobby has been insisting that aborting babies is an “essential” medical service and should be continued during the pandemic.


  abortion, alex azar, coronavirus, hhs

News

Pro-life satire vid destroys pro-abortion claim that sex is for pleasure, not babies

The newest 'Just Sayin' video uses donuts to skewer the pro-abortion grasp of pregnancy consent.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 4:22 pm EST
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Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

PETITION: Urge state governors to stop abortions during coronavirus crisis Sign the petition here.

March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Laura Klassen is back with the latest video in her “Just Saying” series, this time satirizing the popular pro-abortion talking point that abortion is justified because an abortion seeker never “consented” to getting pregnant.

Klassen, the founder and director Ontario-based pro-life group Choice42 (Choice For Two), dons a pink wig in each “Just Saying” installment to debunk common pro-abortion talking points with humor. The latest video has her character, a ditzy pro-abort, enjoying a massive tray of donuts, talking about how “consent to eating all the donuts is not consent to gaining weight. Winning!”

“There is no known correlation between eating sugary, carby goodness and gaining weight, right? Right?” she says. “OK, if I get fat from this, someone is gonna be in big trouble. And it’s not me!”

To make the analogy explicit, she continues that it’s just like how “no one could know that sex leads to pregnancy, duh!”

“Consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy” is a common defense of allowing abortion. Pro-lifers have responded by noting that virtually everyone who engages in consensual sexual intercourse knows pregnancy is a possible outcome, and by arguing that, even if the premise were true (or in cases such as rape, where the woman did not consent to anything), it would not logically follow that killing an innocent child is an ethical remedy.

Choice42’s “Just Saying” series has previously skewered the arguments for Down syndrome abortions, abortion as a mercy toward unwanted kids, excluding men from the abortion debate, and the idea that a “magical birth canal” turns an ambiguously human fetus into a true living being, as well as some abortion activists’ avoidance of the word “abortion” and the double standard of protecting preborn puppies but not baby humans.

The organization also releases more serious videos on topics such as the firsthand accounts of women who choose life in difficult circumstances and works to help women by connecting them to crisis pregnancy resources.


  abortion, choice for two, choice42, consent to pregnancy, consent to sex, laura klassen, personal responsibility, pro-abortion arguments, pro-abortion talking points, video

News

Abortion industry resists order to stop non-essential procedures in Texas, Ohio

Centers remain open and leaders are pushing back against state restrictions.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 3:14 pm EST
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Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – As hospitals across the United States prioritize coronavirus treatment ahead of less urgent matters, abortion facilities in Texas and Ohio are pushing back against suspension of their businesses, demanding that elective abortions be allowed to continue as usual.

PETITION: Urge state governors to stop abortions during coronavirus crisis Sign the petition here.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have advised healthcare facilities to reschedule non-urgent appointments and elective procedures, both to limit the spread of the coronavirus and to free up time and resources to focus on patients afflicted by COVID-19 (the illness caused by the coronavirus).

Compliance with this guidance has been mixed, leading some states to mandate that facilities halt “non-essential” procedures. Among them, the attorneys general of Texas and Ohio have issued statements making it clear to abortionists that the suspension applies to elective abortions as well, NBC News reported.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased demands for hospital beds and has created a shortage of personal protective equipment needed to protect healthcare professionals and stop transmission of the virus,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote. “Postponing surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary will ensure that hospital beds are available for those suffering from COVID-19 and that PPEs are available for healthcare professionals.” 

This includes “any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother,” he said. “Failure to comply with an executive order issued by the governor related to the COVID-19 disaster can result in penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days of jail time.”

The abortion lobby has not taken kindly to these orders, with Planned Parenthood Federation of America declaring that abortion is an “essential and time-sensitive” procedure that “must remain so,” and NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio executive director Kellie Copeland accused the state of "exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to further their agenda to close Ohio's abortion clinics."

"The priority of all Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas is the health and safety of our patients and staff, and ensuring that Texans can access essential health care, including abortion," read a statement signed by the heads of Planned Parenthood’s Greater Texas, South Texas, and Gulf Coast affiliates. "As recognized by medical experts, abortion is a time-sensitive medical procedure. A delay of 30 days, or even less, can make abortion completely inaccessible."

At least one abortion facility in Ohio is openly defying the order, the Daily Caller reported.

“WE ARE OPEN,” the abortion center Preterm declared. “Abortion is legal in Ohio, and Preterm is still here providing the non-judgmental care you need.”

“Preterm is continuing to provide the full range of abortion care services because it is essential health care,” the center’s executive director, Chrisse France, told the Caller. “In compliance with the order from the Ohio Department of Health, our physicians will be making individualized determinations to ensure each person gets the health care they need and that all healthcare providers across the state have access to the supplies needed during this pandemic.”

France did not elaborate on how continuing elective abortions constitutes “compliance.” The Ohio Department of Health has so far declined to say whether it plans on taking legal action against Preterm.

The notion that abortion is “essential care” has the backing of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) excoriated in a statement.

“Continuing to perform elective abortions during a pandemic is medically irresponsible,” the statement read. “Elective abortion is neither ‘essential’ nor ‘urgent,’ but it does consume critical resources such as masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment, and unnecessarily exposes patients and physicians to pathogens.”

“Elective abortion, both surgical and drug induced, also generates more patients to be seen in already overburdened emergency rooms,” AAPLOG continued. “Most abortion providers instruct women to go to an emergency room if they have any concerning symptoms after the abortion. Approximately five percent of women who undergo medication abortions will require evaluation in an emergency room, most commonly for hemorrhage. Surgical abortions can also result in hemorrhage. Emergency room personnel – who are already struggling to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic – will be further strained to provide care to these women.”

Readers can click here for LifeSiteNews’ live updates on the coronavirus and its impact all over the world.


  abortion, coronavirus, ken paxton, ohio, planned parenthood, preterm, texas

News

WATCH: Priest in Italy bravely processes with Eucharist to bless coronavirus-stricken country

'He sang songs in Italian and Polish in honor of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.'
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 2:02 pm EST
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Fr. Tomaso Jozef Jochemczyk processes with the Blessed Sacrament in Italy, March 20, 2020. Sister Marie
Martin Bürger Follow Martin
By Martin Bürger

PRAYER PLEDGE: Rally around the daily Rosary to stop the coronavirus Sign the petition here.

VILLATALLA, Italy, March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A priest in Italy boldly carried the Blessed Sacrament in procession through his small town, blessing his parish, his diocese, and the whole country, which as been stricken by the coronavirus. 

Father Tomaso Jozef Jochemczyk, the Polish pastor of a few small villages in Italy, close to the French border, sang the litany of saints while processing with the monstrance. 

“He called down graces for the great crises in the Church and in the world caused by so many spiritual viruses,” said Sister Marie, OBI, to LifeSiteNews, adding that he also prayed for an end to the coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging much of Italy. 

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Fr. Tomaso blesses the coronavirus-stricken country with the Blessed Sacrament, March 20, 2020. SOURCE: Sister Marie

“While he sang songs in Italian and Polish in honor of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, I took pictures and some short videos, then we sang at least two and a half times the litany of the Saints,” Sister Marie, who lives in Villatalla, told LifeSiteNews.

“He was so happy after the procession and is sure that God’s heart was moved for his faithful souls on earth,” she added. “There are so many intentions of prayers that we were both very intent on performing this act of homage with all these intentions in mind.”

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Fr. Tomaso processes down a town street with the Blessed Sacrament, March 20, 2020. SOURCE: Sister Marie

Father Tomaso told LifeSiteNews why it is important to have processions with the Blessed Sacrament in this time of a pandemic. He referred to the council of Trent, which teaches that “all the sacraments contain the grace of Christ, with the exception of the Eucharist which, instead, contains the very author of grace, Jesus Christ our Savior.”

With this in mind, a Eucharistic procession is doubly important, Father Tomaso explained.

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Fr. Tomaso holds the monstrance high, blessing the coronavirus-stricken country, March 20, 2020. SOURCE: Sister Marie

“On the one hand it is a plea to God himself to forgive us, bless us and give us strength to face danger. On the other hand, it is an act of public faith which seeks to repair the impiety which today spreads among people and in societies which reject its kingship; it is an invitation to conversion, which is less and less talked about today because it seems that the concept of conversion damages the freedom of others.”

The Polish pastor recommended that his brother priests “first of all sanctify themselves; they must attend to their own conversion, so that they may be worthy, as far as human frailty permits, to be ministers of the Lord.”

He pointed to the courage needed in our times, which “can only come from the Lord.” The priest is not a social worker, but he “gives worship to God and gives the sacraments of God to men.”

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Fr. Tomaso holds the monstrance after blessing the coronavirus-stricken country, March 20, 2020. SOURCE: Sister Marie

In this context, Father Tomaso praised the Traditional Latin Mass, because it stresses the role of the priest as acting in the person of Christ. “It is an immense treasure,” he said.

The pastor called priests to give their lives for their flocks, guaranteeing them the sacraments, “especially confession and extreme unction, so that souls may be united to Christ: those who are united to him, in fact, fear nothing.”

The faithful, in turn, “must make every effort to maintain spiritual recollection. This is all the more urgent today both because we are in Lent and because we are experiencing a moment of trial. The faithful know that recollection, prayer, almsgiving and sacrifice can shorten this terrible moment; the effectiveness of prayer is an invincible weapon.”

Additionally, Father Tomaso recommended praying the rosary, and going to confession.

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Fr. Tomaso processes down a street with the Blessed Sacrament, March 20, 2020. SOURCE: Sister Marie

If that sacrament is unavailable, given the current state of affairs, Catholics “should make a perfect act of contrition and have the intention of confessing as soon as possible. These two acts will make them recover their state of grace.”

He emphasized that contrition is not some remorse over sins because they come with a punishment. Rather, it is repentance that is born of the awareness that sin offends God and tramples on His love.”

Father Tomaso first came to Italy more than ten years ago, attracted by the traditional environment within the diocese of Albenga-Imperia. At the time, the diocese was led by Bishop Mario Oliveri, who resigned in 2016.

The fairly new community of the Benedictines of the Immaculate had spent a few years in Villatalla, before they moved on to a former Capuchin monastery in another village. The community was founded by one of the first members of the Benedictines in Le Barroux, a traditionalist community of Benedictine monks affiliated for a while with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the Society of St. Pius X, but now fully recognized by Church authorities.

The foundation of a female branch of the Benedictines of the Immaculate is currently being considered in Villatalla, where Father Tomaso says the traditional Mass every morning. 

“When the coronavirus broke out, we continued to have Mass as usual, but without the faithful,” Sr. Marie said.

Father Tomaso decided to broadcast his Friday Mass online for his family in Poland as well as for friends in a Polish community in Chicago.

“The first time he did this he told me that after the Mass he would like to make a procession with the Blessed Sacrament around the church and bless the village and the city of Imperia, and all of Italy, while singing the Litany of the Saints,” Sr. Marie explained. “This we did and it was very beautiful.”

On March 21, one of the members of the Benedictines of the Immaculate made his solemn vows in the presence of the bishop of Ventimiglia-Sanremo, located right next to Albenga-Imperia. Only three faithful were allowed to enter the church on this occasion.

“I was one of them,” said Sr. Marie, “and again witnessed in Italy, the land of so much suffering and death, the beautiful ceremony of the spiritual death in Christ of a monk who lives only to love and praise God.”

March 25, 2020 update: This report has been updated with comments from Fr. Tomaso.


  coronavirus, eucharist, eucharistic procession, italy

News

30k doctors say continuing elective abortions during pandemic ‘medically irresponsible’

Elective abortions are 'falsely' categorized as 'essential healthcare,' they explained, even though 'elective abortion treats no disease process.'
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 1:08 pm EST
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Martin Bürger Follow Martin
By Martin Bürger

PETITION: Urge state governors to stop abortions during coronavirus crisis Sign the petition here.

March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Five organizations representing more than 30,000 pro-life physicians have lamented “the call to continue elective abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic,” characterizing it as “medically irresponsible.” Elective abortions, they said, are “falsely” characterized by various pro-abortion groups as “essential healthcare.”

The doctors represented by the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Pediatricians, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, the Catholic Medical Association, and the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons emphasized that “elective abortion treats no disease process.”

In their March 23 statement, they explained how “across the United States, services that do constitute essential health care for women, including routine Pap smears, mammograms, and pelvic exams, are being postponed in order to reduce everyone’s risk of exposure to COVID-19, and to conserve scarce medical resources.”

Elective abortions are neither “essential” nor “urgent.” To continue with such procedures would “consume critical resources such as masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment, and unnecessarily exposes patients and physicians to pathogens.”

The pro-life doctors pointed out that elective abortions also lead to more patients in emergency rooms, as most abortionists “instruct women to go to an emergency room if they have any concerning symptoms after the abortion.”

“Approximately 5% of women who undergo medication abortions will require evaluation in an emergency room, most commonly for hemorrhage. Surgical abortions can also result in hemorrhage,” they added.

“Emergency room personnel – who are already struggling to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic – will be further strained to provide care to these women.”

Nonetheless, even with coronavirus spreading quickly in the United States (400 deaths as of March 23), pro-abortion groups claimed abortions are “an essential component of comprehensive health care.”

On March 18, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology, and other organizations, including the Society of Family Planning, said abortions are “a time-sensitive service for which a delay of several weeks, or in some cases days, may increase the risks or potentially make it completely inaccessible.”

“The consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health, and well-being,” they argued.

Many of the same organizations said the pandemic “is a public health crisis that requires the full attention and resources of our health care systems” and have called on hospitals to suspend elective surgeries.”

Pro-life group Created Equal provided arguments similar to those of the pro-life physicians. Abortion facilities consume not only “scarce personal protective equipment, they risk spreading COVID-19 throughout your state.”

“Furthermore, abortionists themselves are not immune to COVID-19 and some, including one in Michigan, may have already contracted the disease. These facilities also put a burden on community EMTs and hospital ERs, should they have a medical emergency at one of their locations.”

Mark Harrington, president of Created Equal, said that if “abortion is a ‘choice’ then abortion is an elective procedure.”

“However, abortionists want to have it both ways. In a clear double standard, abortion centers across the nation are staying open during this national health crisis, risking public health and safety,” he went on.

In Massachusetts, the government wants abortions to continue as usual.

“Terminating a pregnancy is not considered a nonessential, elective invasive procedure for the purpose of this guidance. However, the ultimate decision is based on clinical judgment by the caring physician,” a memorandum of the Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality in Massachusetts stated, according to MassLive.com.

“Health care providers are being diverted to help address the epidemic while also being most at risk of acquiring the disease. This may create a shortage of clinicians who can provide sexual and reproductive health services and increase wait times for patients in need,” the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute worried on March 11.


  abortion, coronavirus

News

WATCH: Pope Francis blames coronavirus on nature ‘having a fit’ over environmental damage

The Pope told a Spanish journalist Sunday that the coronavirus pandemic is nature throwing a tantrum 'so that we will take care of nature'
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 11:15 am EST
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Pope Francis attends the Pachamama ritual in the Vatican Gardens where a pagan 'sacred tree' planting ceremony took place, Oct. 4, 2019, Rome.
Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Follow Matthew
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis told a Spanish journalist on Sunday that he believes that the coronavirus pandemic is nature “having a fit” in response to environmental pollution.

Stating that “curiously the planet hasn’t been very clean for a long time,” the interviewer asked, “Is it possible that this is nature’s hour of reckoning with us?”

Pope Francis answered: “There’s a saying that you surely know: God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, [but] nature never forgives.”

“Fires, earthquakes . . . that is, nature is having a fit, so that we will take care of nature.”

The expression “having a fit” is a translation of the Spanish word used by Francis, “patalear,” which means to kick or stomp one’s feet, and is often used to refer to outbursts of rage or frustration, sometimes by children having a tantrum.

Pope Francis’ comments were made during an internet video interview with the Spanish journalist and comedian Jordi Évole on the coronavirus pandemic, in which Pope Francis made scant references to God, except to admit that he has sometimes doubted the existence of God in the past. (However, the video is edited, and parts may have been removed.)

“Pardon the question, but in a situation like this one, is it possible to have a crisis of faith?” asked Évole. “Can even a pope doubt the existence of God?”

“Clearly so,” responded Francis. “No one is exempt from existential temptations.”

“You have doubted the existence of God?” asked Évole.

“During my life, yes,” responded Francis. “At this moment no, but during my life, yes, a few times.  I recall that in my life I have had my doubts regarding the faith, my crises of faith, but they have been resolved by the grace of God.”

However, Francis added cryptically: “No one is saved from the common path of the people, which is the best road, the most sure, concrete. And that makes everyone well.”

Francis declined the offer to make a statement to those who are suffering the loss of loved ones, instead saying he wants them to feel his “closeness.”

“These days there have been many people that are suffering, especially the people who are losing their loved ones. What would you tell them?” he was asked.

“The last thing I would do is tell them something,” the pontiff responded. “What I try to do is help them to feel my closeness. Today what is more important is the language of gestures than words. It’s necessary to tell them something, but closeness, gestures, saying hello . . .” His voice trailed off, and Évole continued with another question. 

Asked if he was an “optimist” regarding the situation, Francis answered that he had “hope” in people.

“I have hope in humanity, in men and women, I have hope in the nations. I have much hope. Nations are going to be taught by this crisis to re-think their lives. We are going to come out better – fewer, of course. Many remain on the road and it is hard. But I have faith that we are going to come out better.”

The full interview can be found behind a paywall here.

Pope’s words echo recent statements by ‘liberation theologian’

The pope’s attribution of the coronavirus pandemic to environmental damage is in keeping with the strongly environmentalist “eco-theology” he has been promoting during his pontificate since the publication of his encyclical “Laudato si” in 2015, and particularly at the recent Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, which tended to displace spiritual concerns with environmental ones.

Last November, the Pope said that he hoped to add the “‘ecological sin’ against our common home” to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. "We have to introduce―we are thinking about it―to the Catechism of the Catholic Church the sin against ecology, the 'ecological sin' against our common home, because a duty is at stake," the Pope said. 

The Pope has called on Catholics to have an “ecological conversion,” urging them, at one point, to go to confession for sins of not being respectful of creation, giving examples of examination of conscience such as “avoiding the use of plastic and paper,” “separating refuse” and “turning off unnecessary lights.” 

Last October, the Pope published a book titled “Our Mother Earth” which consisted of a collection of his addresses, messages, and homilies where he stresses the protection of the environment. “I sincerely hope for growth in awareness and true repentance on the part of us all, men and women of the 21st century, believers or not, and on the part of our societies, for allowing ourselves to be carried away by logics that divide, create hunger, isolate and condemn. It would be good to ask the poor [and] the excluded for forgiveness. Then we could repent sincerely, including for the harm done to the earth, the sea, the air, the animals," the Pope stated in an extract of one of his messaged included in the book. 

The Pope’s opinion of the origin of natural disasters as nature lashing out against man’s environmental sins is echoed by Leonardo Boff, a dissenting “liberation” theologian who abandoned the Franciscan order and entered into a union with a woman after being censured by the Vatican for attacks on Catholic doctrine. Boff is a strong supporter of Pope Francis and has known him since the 1970s.

In a recent article for a Brazilian magazine, Boff opined that the coronavirus pandemic is the revenge of “Gaia,” a personified planet earth who has become outraged over environmental offenses, and which he also calls the “Great Mother.”

“Not without reason did James Lovelock, who formulated the theory of the Earth as a living, self-regulating superorganism, Gaia, write a book (called) Gaia's Revenge (Intrínseca, 2006),” wrote Boff in his article “The Origins of Coronavirus”. 

“I believe that current diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, zika virus, SARS, ebola, measles, the current coronavirus, and the widespread degradation of human relations, marked by deep inequality/social injustice and a lack of minimal solidarity, are a reprisal for Gaia for the offenses we inflict on her without interruption,” he added.

“It is not without reason that the virus has erupted there where there is most pollution,” wrote Boff,  adding: “I would not say, like J. Lovelock, that it is ‘Gaia's revenge’ because she, as the Great Mother, does not take revenge, but gives us severe signs that she is ill (typhoons, melting of the polar ice caps, droughts and floods, etc.) and, finally, because we do not learn the lesson, she makes a reprisal against us like the diseases mentioned,” he wrote, adding “It is a reaction to violent human action.”


  catholic, coronavirus, eco-theology, environmentalism, gaia, mother earth, pope francis

News

UK gov’t reverses, says it won’t expand at-home abortions due to coronavirus

The statement 'was published in error,' a government spokesperson said.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 10:26 am EST
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Paul Smeaton Paul Smeaton Follow Paul
By Paul Smeaton

LONDON, United Kingdom, March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A spokesperson for the U.K. government has said that there will be no changes to abortion laws there, after a statement made yesterday announced a temporary measure authorizing women to kill their preborn children at home by using both stages of a chemical abortion process during the coronavirus pandemic.

The statement has now been removed from the government website. 

The statement had read: 

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has approved 2 temporary measures in England to limit the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) and ensure continued access to early medical abortion services:

  • women and girls will be able to take both pills for early medical abortion in their own homes, without the need to first attend a hospital or clinic
  • medical practitioners (doctors) will be able to prescribe both pills for the treatment of early medical abortion from their own homes

“This was published in error. There will be no changes to abortion regulations,” a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told The Independent.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) welcomed the news that such a massive extension of abortion in Britain is not now going ahead, but said that they are keeping their lawyers on stand-by. 

John Smeaton, SPUC’s chief executive, said: “Last night I called our lawyers asking them to initiate immediate legal action on behalf of the Society seeking to overturn what appeared to be an ‘ideology-driven’ change to Britain’s abortion laws. Thank God that such a dangerous move – for unborn children and their mothers – is not, after all, being enacted by the Government. We warmly welcome the Government’s corrected announcement. However, we will be keeping SPUC’s lawyers on stand-by.”

“It is of course disturbing and extraordinary that such an error could be made, but now is a time for prayers of thanks not recrimination and, above all, for continued vigilance.”

Smeaton continued:

Now is also the time for pro-life legislators and campaigners to call on those to reconsider other abortion plans which so clearly threaten the health of mothers and represent an irresponsible misuse of vital resources.

This radical and most disturbing policy would have also have placed more women at risk. The removal of any direct medical supervision overseeing the use of both abortion pills could have seen a rise of physical and physiological complications experienced by women.  Specifically, the document permitted consultations with a doctor to also take place via a video link or telephone, rather than face-to-face.

Pro-life MPs and campaigners must call on those in power not to implement the abortion provisions set out in section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation, etc) Act 2019 – which were opposed by every Northern Ireland MP who take their seats in the House of Commons.

SPUC has said that the coronavirus outbreak presents a host of unanswered questions which should result in the abortion industry being closed down around the world.

Last week, pro-life doctors in the United States told LifeSiteNews that continuing abortions during a pandemic is “medically irresponsible.”

In a statement sent to LifeSite, the American Association of Prolife OB/GYNs (AAPLOG) explained that “abortions offer zero health benefits to women and do not treat a disease process” and issued a call for “abortions to be suspended according to the current recommendations pertaining to elective procedures and office visits.”


  abortion, coronavirus, united kingdom

Opinion

Trump’s coronavirus response earns public’s respect, bump in poll numbers

Political tectonic plates are shifting as progs like Ilhan Omar start praising Trump's crisis management (and as his polls rise).
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 7:58 pm EST
Featured Image
Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images
Thomas Lifson
By Thomas

March 24, 2020 (American Thinker) — Political tectonic plates are shifting as progs like Ilhan Omar start praising Trump's crisis management (and as his polls rise).

At first, the growing wave of praise for President Trump's handling of the coronavirus catastrophe seemed like pigs flying, an unexpected and rare event. But now that the governors of deep blue California and New York have been joined by Ilhan Omar in admiring his handling of the crisis, we can see that forces far larger than individuals going rogue from Trump Derangement Syndrome are at work. TDS is being swamped by the reality of an existential crisis.

The latest Harris polls show rising approval for the federal government's handling of the crisis:

Conducted using a nationally representative sample of 2,050 Americans over two waves, March 14–15 and March 17-18, the poll provided some quick feedback on how the public's perception can change overnight even as the government shifts its response to a crisis in which the news seemingly changes by the hour.

Overall, both waves showed around 60% of Americans "satisfied" with how the federal government has handled the coronavirus crisis so far.

Of the president's performance, 56% of the second wave approve of the way Trump has handled the COVID-19 crisis, with 44% disapproving. This is up five percentage points from the first wave, conducted only two days before. Meanwhile, Trump's overall approval jumped four percentage points between waves, from 49% to 53%.

Democrat politicians have access to far more granular polling data that must show them that Americans want a strong leader in a time of mortal peril facing them and that President Trump is rising to the challenge of his office. The smarter ones among them may also understand that the nonstop carping, criticizing every move that Trump has made since taking office, has created cynicism and doubt about the sincerity of the continuous nitpicking. President Trump is not about to let them forget the wave of criticism denouncing his prescient ban on arrivals from China as racist, either, so they had better get on board and earn his favor, lest they be called out.

[Editor’s note: Video in the original post is here.]

REPORTER: "You did say a few days ago that you did have a sense that this was a pandemic that was coming. So why was the United States not prepared with more testing — "

TRUMP: "We were very prepared. The only thing we weren't prepared for was the media. The media has not treated it fairly. I will tell you how prepared I was, I called for a ban from people coming in from China long before anybody thought it was — in fact, it was your network, I believe they called me a racist because I did that. It was many of the people in the room, they called me racist and other words because I did that, because I went so early. So when you say we weren't prepared, had I let these tens of thousands of people come in from China a day, we would have had something right now that would have been — you wouldn't have even recognized it compared to where we are. How many people have passed away? How many people have died as of this moment? You could multiply that by a factor of many, many, many. So when you say that I wasn't prepared, I was the first one to do the ban. Now other countries are following what I did. But the media doesn't acknowledge that. They know it's true. They know it's true, but they don't want to write about it. Yeah, go ahead."

The plain fact is that Americans rally behind their presidents when the nation is under attack, whether by a nation-state or a virus. In recent adult memory, President George W. Bush reaped such support. Those who appear to be hobbling the effectiveness of the president's response to such as a personal and lethal threat earn contempt from the majority, who want to pull together to overcome the threat that faces us as a people. Nothing unifies more powerfully than an external threat to the collectivity. When Ilhan Omar understands this, we can be sure that the message is sinking in for all but the thoroughly dysfunctional deranged (who are still numerous on the left, to be sure).

It helps a lot that President Trump's management style is well adapted to crisis management in the face of an unprecedented threat full of unknowable factors. He is the very opposite of the traditional bureaucrat who appoints a task force and waits for a report on the best way to handle matters. His style is to identify the best people (in his eyes) and give them room to move quickly and monitor the results closely, making changes as the situation warrants.

The top-down bureaucratic approach minimizes visible mistakes, at least when the situation is well understood, but at the cost of delay. And bureaucrats loathe being held responsible for mistakes, so they instinctively go for a strategy that minimizes personal liabilities.

Trump, whose history includes a lot of scrambling to make, and then save, complex real estate deals, is comfortable with a looser, ad hoc approach, always trying to minimize the downside but unafraid to take calculated risks and rapidly act when events go south. And in his daily briefings with his team, he is unafraid to act and justify his actions on the basis of the best information available at the time, and then revise those decisions (such as his characterization of the seriousness of the threat) as data warrant.

To my eyes, he also seems to be getting his sea legs as a presidential crisis leader, backing his team strongly (and receiving visible and effusive support back from them) while bringing along the public with them as they scramble to figure out together what is in the best interest of the nation.

Seven and a half months, the amount of time until the nation votes, is an eternity in politics, and a lot can happen. But right now, President Trump is solidifying his role as our leader, who is doing his best to save his allies and his foes alike from a threat that could kill any or all of us.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.


  2020 presidential election, coronavirus, donald trump, ilhan omar, mainstream media

Opinion

Trump accuses mainstream media of ‘corrupt news’ over coronavirus coverage

'It's more than fake news. It's corrupt news. They write stories without calling anybody.'
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 7:35 pm EST
Featured Image
Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Andrea Widberg
By Andrea Widberg

March 24, 2020 (American Thinker) — Chanel Rion, who is half-Korean, is the White House correspondent for One America Network (AKA OAN), an openly conservative news station. On Thursday, during President Trump’s now daily press briefing, she asked him why it was appropriate to use the phrase “Chinese Virus” when referring to the coronavirus.

President Trump seized the opportunity to say this was an accurate term and that the fake news media were parroting Chinese propaganda when they accused him of being racist. The mainstream media responded by doing everything short of falling on the fainting couch with smelling salts at the horror of it all — and then by demonstrating that they are, in fact, repeating the Chinese party line.

Rion’s question didn’t pull punches about her pro-American, anti-Chinese-communism bias. She first asked Trump whether the phrase “Chinese food” is racist. Trump, after noting that he likes OAN, agreed that the phrase isn’t racist at all.

Then Rion got to the heart of the matter:

On that note, major left-wing news media — even in this room — have teamed up with Chinese Communist Party narratives and they’re claiming you’re racist for making these claims about ‘Chinese virus.’ Is it alarming that major media players, just to oppose you, are consistently siding with foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicals and Latin gangs and cartels? And they work right here at the White House with direct access to you and your team?

Given an opening, Trump took it:

It amazes me when I read the things that I read. It amazes me when I read the Wall Street Journal, which is always so negative. It amazes me when I read the New York Times ... it’s not even, I don’t, barely read it. You know, we don’t distribute it in the White House anymore and the same thing with the Washington Post. Because, you see, I know the truth. And people out there in the world, they really don’t know the truth, they don’t know what it is. They use different slogans and different concepts for me almost every week, trying to catch something. Last week it was all “chaos.” You see me. There’s no chaos. I have no chaos. I’m the one telling everybody to be calm. There’s no chaos in the White House. We have unbelievable professionals. It’s really — I mean, I think I came up with the term. I hope I came up with the term. But it is Fake News. It’s more than Fake News. It’s corrupt news. They write stories without calling anybody. They write a story today, they had a couple of stories, where they never call me. Ever. That I know of. At least, nobody tells me. They’ll write a story without even asking my opinion on something. It’s totally fake.

The media were shocked. Shocked! Brian “the human potato” Stelter exemplify the media’s all-out war on Trump:

And then, for America’s media, it was right back to parroting the Chinese government’s party line. The Washington Post angrily reported that Fox News is saying China is responsible for the pandemic:

NBC News, in its turn, reported that China, which is pure of heart, is terrified that an irresponsible America, as well as other nations, will re-infect it:

Trump is only partly right when he calls the mainstream media corrupt. They’re also disgusting. Tucker Carlson gives the media his famously deadly blank look as he discusses its anti-American dishonesty:

Published with permission from the American Thinker.


  coronavirus, donald trump, mainstream media

Opinion

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway deflects vicious media attack at coronavirus presser

When Kellyanne Conway made herself available for questions from the media, the assembled press members didn't want to talk about things that might matter to the American people.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 7:30 pm EST
Featured Image
Kellyanne Conway.
Andrea Widberg
By Andrea Widberg

March 24, 2020 (American Thinker) — The mainstream media are disgusting. That sentence could open every article about the mainstream media in a time of coronavirus. The media's hostility to Trump is so extreme that there is no lie they won't tell to damage him — never mind that doing so might destroy the American economy or cause other unimaginable harm to the American people.

In addition to lies, the media's other line of attack is to call everything Trump says or does "racist." When it comes to the coronavirus, the media have a friend in the Chinese Communist Party that started this epidemic. The communists would also like Trump to be "racist," because attacking him deflects attention from the party's disgraceful and deadly behavior in hiding the coronavirus from the world to keep the Chinese government looking good.

This anti-Trump bias had led to the latest media meme, which is that the phrases "Wuhan Virus" and "Chinese Virus" are racist. Naturally, Trump doubled down, for he now speaks only of the Chinese Virus. The problem for the media is that they, just a month ago, used the words "Chinese" and "Wuhan" nonstop when referring to the virus. Reporters, therefore, know they're on shaky ground when attacking Trump on this point.

The only thing to be done is to lie. In this case, the lie is that an unnamed White House official went beyond saying "Wuhan" or "Chinese Virus." Instead, speaking to an Asian reporter, the official called the coronavirus the "Kung Flu."

On Wednesday, when Kellyanne Conway made herself available for questions from the media, the assembled press members, mostly women by the sound of their voices, didn't want to talk about things that might matter to the American people, such as plans for stemming the tide of the Chinese Virus or helping the financial hemorrhage the virus is causing.

Instead, the media's shrieking harpies spoke in one voice: tell us how guilty the whole Trump administration is because an anonymous White House official allegedly made a joke that offended an Asian reporter.

Conway responded perfectly. Without raising her voice or getting sharp, she demanded that those reporters identify the alleged "senior White House official" who spoke about the "Kung Flu."

The resulting video is a little long (over two minutes), but every second is a pleasure. As Conway politely asks for information, the women before her become shriller and more incoherent, believing that they have no obligation to substantiate a crude rumor if it will help them in their self-righteous and insane crusade against Trump:

Whatever Trump is paying Conway, it's not enough, based on that performance alone.

Interestingly, the media's nonstop attacks on Trump, sadly, have affected how the public views his performance overall, lowering his polling numbers in the past week. However, when pollsters ask people about Trump's specific policies, people like them.

For example, according to Rasmussen Reports, "80% of American Adults agree with the federal government's decision to temporarily ban travelers from China and nearly all European countries to prevent the possible spread of coronavirus. Only 12% disagree." Matt Palumbo has other data about American support for coronavirus policies in Trump's America.

We've known for a long time that the media are morally corrupt. It's helpful to see them reveal themselves in their battle against Trump. They're all pretty, shiny, and articulate on TV, but behind those façades lurk debased, hate-filled people. Each reporter has become his own picture of Dorian Gray.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.


  coronavirus, donald trump, kellyanne conway, mainstream media, racism

Opinion

Leftist magazine runs China-critical piece after accusations of ‘pro-China’ loyalty

The Atlantic Monthly has taken a beating for its China apologetics.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 7:16 pm EST
Featured Image
President Xi Jinping of China. Noel Celis - Pool/Getty Images
Monica Showalter
By Monica Showalter

March 24, 2020 (American Thinker) — The Atlantic Monthly has taken a beating for its China apologetics. In the wake of the coronavirus — or, now, China virus — crisis, circumstantial evidence suggests it's trying to find as many creative reasons as possible to justify Chinese propaganda.

The Federalist did a ferocious takedown of The Atlantic's press apologetics and featured multiple examples from several of its most vaunted writers.

Instead of investigating or writing about China's propaganda machine working in real time as we watch the virus rapidly spread across the globe, journalists at The Atlantic are more interested in writing their own pro-China, anti-American virus hot takes. Here are the receipts.

Disputing the name "Wuhan virus" is China's first big hurdle in distancing themselves from the virus. They would much prefer "coronavirus" or the scientific name "COVID-19," despite the fact that scientists and doctors have a long-held practice of naming a new disease after a population or the site of its first major outbreak. So of course one of the easiest positions for The Atlantic to publish was: Wuhan = bad, COVID-19 = good, and for good measure, blame the name discrepancy on "conservatives" deploying "racist tropes."

It's "an extraordinarily shoddy piece of writing," sniffed Anne Applebaum on Twitter, despite the article's classic essay structure — intro, thesis, three supporting points. There was one ignorant-looking typo in it, but that's hardly enough to call it "extraordinarily shoddy." Maybe plain shoddy, but doesn't rise to even that with one typo. More likely, it sounds as though the essay stung.

Though she's still ranting on about how America is the problem and has gotten its comeuppance with the coronavirus (imagine her long face if the crisis ends earlier than projected), The Atlantic did do an about-face and ran a truly China-critical piece by one Shadi Hamid, who apparently also does columns. 

Aside from a couple of obligatory shots at President Trump, it's a terrific piece, one that outlines all the reasons the Chicoms are to blame for the coronavirus, along with a hearty defense of President Trump's insistence on calling it the "China virus." He acknowledges the reality of Chinese propaganda, describes what the key points are, and then lays out the argument that China is solely to blame in a piece one can relish. He begins bluntly with this and never backs down:

The evidence of China's deliberate cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan is a matter of public record. In suppressing information about the virus, doing little to contain it, and allowing it to spread unchecked in the crucial early days and weeks, the regime imperiled not only its own country and its own citizens but also the more than 100 nations now facing their own potentially devastating outbreaks. More perniciously, the Chinese government censored and detained those brave doctors and whistleblowers who attempted to sound the alarm and warn their fellow citizens when they understood the gravity of what was to come.

This represents a significant about-face for The Atlantic. Suddenly, it's changed its tune, coming right on the heels of the criticism of it as a de facto Chinese agent.

I am sure the NeverTrumps and Deep State–aligned Trump-haters over at the Atlantic will continue their chorus of disapproval of the U.S. president. But it's surprising indeed to see a hard finger of blame going to China from a magazine that has bent over backwards to praise and justify China. All of a sudden, this sort of piece gets in, right after the Federalist criticism? 

Something tells me they're scrambling at the Atlantic to shake the "Chinese water boy" designation.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.


  china, coronavirus, mainstream media, the atlantic

Opinion

The state has forbidden public Masses. Why it’s a huge problem for bishops to go along

The prohibition of public Masses because of the coronavirus testifies to a relativized understanding of the Eucharist.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 3:29 pm EST
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Fr. Dr. Sven Leo Conrad FSSP
By

PRAYER PLEDGE: Rally around the daily Rosary to stop the coronavirus Sign the petition here.

March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – When the princes of the apostles, Peter and Paul, suffered their martyrdom under Emperor Nero, there must already have been a Christian congregation in Rome, that is, the Roman Church already existed. In front of her was a rocky path, a few centuries long, until Emperor Constantine the Great (†337) liberated her from the danger of persecution and declared her a religio licita. Even though Emperor Julian the Apostate (†363) rebuilt the ancient temples again and attempted to push through the return to paganism, the triumph of the Christian altar could not be stopped any longer.

In late antiquity, the question of Christian worship became a question of the cult that supported the state, and thus an eminently political one. Erik Peterson has shown that since the Apocalypse of St. John, the understanding of cult has aimed at becoming the cultus publicus (public cult) of human society. Christians recognized in their Lord slaughtered and risen on the throne of the cross the true Pantocrator and ruler of history. His cult also had to incarnate within history and therefore quite naturally took on representative forms of the imperial cult. The altars of the Christians replaced the pantheon of the old empire. After the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410, Augustine felt compelled to respond with his great work De Civitate Dei to the accusation that the suppression of the old public cult of the Roman gods by the worship of the Christians was to blame for the catastrophe. The gods had not wanted to support the state since they were abandoned by it.

In view of these dates of Church history, it is curious that by decree of the prime minister public Masses are forbidden for several weeks throughout Italy (and more and more European countries). For the first time in millennia, a crisis in the former core area of the Roman Empire is being met without religion and even the cultus publicus is being banned. This is the final consequence of the fact that the secular state has the right to place itself above religion.

Something else has to scare us even more. The theology of the last decades has substantially contributed to the fact that also within the Church one can no longer understand the necessity of a continuous cult, and that bishops can rather quickly agree with the drastic measures of the government. Of different theological developments, let us pick two important ones. If in more and more countries today no public cult is possible anymore, then it must be said that it was in a certain sense already abolished within theology by parts of the later liturgical movement, because it wanted to detach Christian worship radically from the history of religion and from philosophical insights. The Second Vatican Council, however, did not only see in Christ’s priesthood the cultus publicus accomplished, but applied this concept quite classically (SC 7, 27, and others).

Even more than this set of questions, however, it is decisive that in the 20th century it was increasingly relativized to frequently celebrate the Eucharist, i.e. the actual core of worship. Odo Casel (†1948) has formulated a re-foundation of Christian worship that is entirely determined by the certainly biblical concept of mystery. Important theologians in the 20th century were on the one hand fascinated by the theology of mystery, but on the other hand also had weighty objections because of its metaphysical weaknesses. An important controversy arose between Casel and Gottlieb Söhngen (†1971), Joseph Ratzinger’s doctoral supervisor, whose central question was whether the sacrificial act of the Mass was numerically identical with that on the cross. The theology of mystery in Casel’s wake in all its manifestations leads to assume such a numerical identity (cf. Ulrich Kühn, TRE 1, 169), with far-reaching consequences. The understanding of the Eucharistic celebration thus shifts from a sacrifice made here and now to a memory (albeit filled with reality) of the Paschal Mystery of Christ. In the further reception of Casel, the content of the Paschal Mystery is no longer only the sacrificial transition to the Father (Jn 13:1) in Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension, i.e. a classical view of sacrifice. Instead, it is expanded into a general anamnesis of Christ or into a cipher for the saving action of the biblical God in history. In addition, as a consequence of Casel’s reception, it is emphasized that not only the Mass participates in the Paschal Mystery. Every liturgical celebration, also the liturgy of the Word presided over by a layman, is its expression. From here, by the way, it is understandable that the Synodal Path indiscriminately offers a Mass at one time, and at another time a liturgy of the Word as the central worship service for the members.

Karl Rahner, on the other hand, tried to preserve the sacrificial character of the Mass and maintained the numerical difference between the sacrificial act on the Cross and that of the Eucharist. Only in this way could the presence of Christ at Mass, in contrast to his presence in the other sacraments, be distinguished as sacrificial (cf. Kühn). This fundamental helpful insight, however, did not prevent Rahner for his part from strongly relativizing the necessity of the frequentness of Mass. He formulates as a central principle underlying it that the Eucharist must be celebrated “as often as the frequentness of the celebration of Mass increases the fides and devotio of those celebrating.” In other words, this means that there is no effect of the Sacrifice of the Mass except that which is aimed at those who currently participate in it. The Magisterium of the Church has tried to counteract the relativization of the Sacrifice of the Mass. In his encyclical Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII emphasized not only the liturgy as a cultus publicus, but also the classical purposes of sacrifice, which the Eucharist has: praise, thanksgiving, expiation and petition. These purposes of sacrifice, however, have a clear and relevant reference to the life of man: “One understands, then, why the Holy Council of Trent assures that through the Eucharistic sacrifice the saving power of the cross is turned to us for the forgiveness of our daily sins.”

The Second Vatican Council speaks of a continuation of the sacrifice of the cross (SC 47). Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical Mysterium Fidei, prepared still during the Council in 1965, emphasizes precisely with regard to this formulation its continuity with the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass of the Tridentine Council. Moreover, it was the Pope of the Council who urged priests to celebrate Mass daily, noting: “For every Mass celebrated is offered not only for the salvation of some, but for the salvation of the whole world.” This formulation was also used by the conciliar teaching authority (PO, FN 15). How strongly the Pope of the Council insisted on the necessity of the frequentness of Mass is proven by the sentence with which he closes his call to priests to daily celebration, stating that they “contribute most to the salvation of the human race.”

Our times present us with new challenges, with the reactions of state and Church to the coronavirus being only one symptom. The question is how faith in a God who has entered history and who calls upon his covenant people can also become socially relevant without becoming secular. But it is also about the innermost question of the sacramental action of the Church. Faithful times would have been aware that the Eucharistic Sacrifice represents today’s most powerful intervention of God in history.

Written by Fr. Dr. Sven Leo Conrad FSSP, head of the Fraternity’s Academic Council. This article was first published by Die Tagespost and is translated with permission by Martin Bürger.


  catholic, coronavirus, eucharist

Blogs

‘It’s About Sin!’  Hermit says coronavirus is a ‘chastisement’

Fr. Maximilian Mary Dean believes that the coronavirus is being inflicted upon mankind for our many sins but that if we 'cling to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart, everything will be all right.'
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 4:35 pm EST
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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

PRAYER PLEDGE: Rally around the daily Rosary to stop the coronavirus Sign the petition here.

March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The coronavirus outbreak has forced millions of Catholics across the world not only to be quarantined, but to be without access to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. With that in mind, I thought there’d be no better person to speak to about surviving — and thriving — while living in social isolation than Fr. Maximilian Mary Dean, a hermit who resides in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Fr. Maximilian was a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate for a total of 22 years. He was the superior of their contemplative order in Italy and served as postulant director for six years in the United States. When the founders were replaced by a commissioner, Fr. Maximillian prayerfully discerned that there was no future for his contemplative vocation with the Franciscans. Eventually, Bishop Ronald Gainer welcomed him into his diocese as a priest hermit.

Fr. Maximilian’s story is truly unique. As a young boy, he grew up in a wild household where his parents would host massive parties. He was also a guitarist and a member of a rock band. When he was just 16, after a wild night of drinking, he got into a car accident that almost cost him his life. 

“If I died at that moment, I’m convinced that I would have been condemned to hell,” he told me on my podcast today. “But God in His mercy gave me a second lease on life and began to call me to respond to his grace.”

Fr. Maximillian is still a musician and produces some really great songs that are wholesome and enjoyable. Go to his website, www.FatherMaxMusic.com, to listen to some of his best work.

What I really wanted to ask Father about was his thoughts on the coronavirus and what advice he has for Catholics who are holed up in their homes. 

First off, he told me, and I agree with him, that mankind is being punished with the coronavirus for its many sins and that large-scale suffering is “always linked to our sins.” 

He mentioned how Our Lady of La Salette, an approved apparition that occurred in the 1840s in France, proved that the famine that was occurring at the time was a direct result of men profaning Sunday and using the Lord’s name in vain. Father also mentioned how Our Lady of Fatima warned about World War II taking place if men didn’t do penance.

Fr. Maximillian believes that the coronavirus is being inflicted on mankind for not repenting of its ways. He singled out abortion, homosexuality, pornography, and the failure of churchmen to preach and live by the Faith in its fullness as major contributors to sin in these times. “Any sickness, any suffering, is linked to our fore-bears’ sins and also our own sins,” he said. “How can God not respond in some way, you know?”

So what can Catholics do in these times? When we are in isolation, Father said, music “can help lift us up when we're getting kind of down and struggling...there are times where the music just helps me to keep my focus on God.”

He also said we should “make our life an extension of the Mass” and offer up our sufferings in “atonement for our sins and those of the world.” That’s not going to be easy, he added, but Catholics need to realize that the situations they find themselves are either “willed or they’re permitted by God to draw us closer to Him to help save and sanctify ourselves.” 

Fr. Maximillian added that Catholics must “hunker down and pray” and enjoy some music to calm their nerves and to focus on God.

“The whole world is being forced to think about their final end. They’re all being forced to think about the four last things...there’s many souls, I think, right now that are disposed because of the situation to extraordinary conversion,” he told me. “How many souls will go to Heaven if we pray and sacrifice for them? ... Our prayers and sacrifices can bring about the salvation and sanctification of many souls.”

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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  coronavirus, covid-19, prayer, quarantine, the john-henry westen show

Blogs

Why Catholics must pray the Holy Rosary during coronavirus pandemic

Fatima-seer Sister Lucia said Our Lady had given the rosary 'new efficacy' to solve every problem, both temporal and spiritual.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 3:10 pm EST
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Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Paul Smeaton Paul Smeaton Follow Paul
By Paul Smeaton

PRAYER PLEDGE: Rally around the daily Rosary to stop the coronavirus Sign the petition here.

March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – With Catholics around the world now facing the prospect of being unable to attend Mass due to the coronavirus pandemic, it seems to me that the words of Fatima-seer Sister Lucia emphasizing the “new efficacy” given by God to the Rosary become more pertinent than ever.

In a 1957 meeting with Fr Augustin Fuentes, Sister Lucia, who died in 2005, said that there was no problem, temporal or spiritual, that cannot be resolved by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.

The Most Holy Virgin, in these last times in which we live, has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary. 

She has given this efficacy to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations, that cannot be solved by the Rosary. 

There is no problem I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary. 

With the Holy Rosary we will save ourselves. 

We will sanctify ourselves. 

We will console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls.

I have been telling my friends for years that I expect to see significant societal change in my lifetime. Our work at LifeSite exposes us constantly to the brutal realities of the world today. For that reason, we’ve started a daily, live rosary that I would encourage everyone to join. Led by a faithful priest in Italy, the rosary begins every day at 12 pm EDT. At a time when we are all so isolated, let’s make a special effort to come together in prayer

We know that things can’t and that they won’t continue this way forever. In whatever way the current pandemic plays out, mankind cannot keep killing its children by the millions, cannot keep destroying the innocence of little ones, cannot keep denying God and cannot keep wading further and further into confusion and sin.

But recent events have made many of us wonder whether this is the moment of significant societal change we’ve been talking about for years. And they’ve made me realize that, in reality, a big part of me has expected things to remain pretty much as they are. Much as I’ve talked about the inevitability of societal upheaval and at times been frustrated with the inability of even fellow Catholics to acknowledge the seriousness of the current state of affairs in the world and in the Church, I wasn’t expecting it now and I have the same fears and anxieties about the developing coronavirus pandemic as millions of others will share.

My expectation that a serious disruption of some sort was coming is no particular consolation at this moment of uncertainty.

And right now all of us are looking for consolation, for something to give us confidence, hope, and assurance. Facing the prospect of potential isolation and being unable to attend Mass, I find it a source of great comfort to think that so powerful a prayer has been still further blessed by God and so clearly recommended to us by Our Blessed Mother. 

Again, I would highly encourage you to join LifeSite staff and readers from around the world in a live daily rosary, learn more here.

As a good friend of mine once reflected: “if we consider how many saints have urged us to pray the Rosary, and how much they extolled its great power, how much more encouraged should we be by Sister Lucia’s words that ‘the Most Holy Virgin, in these last times in which we live, has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary’.”


  catholic, coronavirus, rosary, sister lucia

Blogs

Why coronavirus stats can be misleading, resulting in overblown projections

There’s mounting evidence that the virus can be mitigated, treated, if not absolutely controlled
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 12:55 pm EST
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Steven Mosher Steven Mosher Follow Steven
By Steven Mosher

March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Eight days ago, I wrote an article suggesting that the Chinese Coronavirus will not take hold in America the way it did in China, South Korea, and Italy.  

The proximate cause of my putting pen to paper (or putting fingers on keyboard, actually) was a number of alarming projections to the effect that over a million Americans may die before the epidemic here is damped down.  Such projections seemed to me then, and continue to seem to me now, to be overblown. 

This is not to say that the coronavirus does not pose a threat to elderly Americans—it does—only that an obsessive focus on worst-case scenarios tends to obscure the mounting evidence that the Wuhan Flu can be mitigated and treated, if not absolutely controlled.  

Now I do not write as a medical doctor, although I am ABD (all-but-doctorate, as we say) in the biological sciences.  Nor am I an epidemiologist, although I have carried out health surveys in developing countries and have a background in demographic anthropology.  Nor am I a statistician, although I was a nuclear engineer in the U.S. Navy.  If a nuclear reaction is not an example of exponential growth I don’t know what is.  Numbers are my friends. 

Some are alarmed by the fact that the number of confirmed cases of the Wuhan Flu in the U.S. are on the rise. What everyone needs to understand is that this is largely a reflection of the continued expansion in testing, rather than an indicator of the spread of the disease itself.  The more people we test, the more cases we are going to find. It’s as simple as that.

The other thing about the current testing protocol is this:  The CDC only tests people who have symptoms.  Naturally a high percentage of the tests come back positive, leading some to think that a similar percentage of the general population has the disease.  They don’t.

News anchors who breathlessly announce each day’s tranche of new cases do a disservice to their audience by not explaining these things.  Of course, they do a similar disservice by reporting China’s fake numbers as if they were fact.  

Now I would hope that no American broadcaster would deliberately try and make China—which unleashed this pandemic on the world—look good and his own country, by comparison, look bad.  But who knows?  

Ohio

Let’s start with Ohio. I earlier quoted Governor Mike DeWine, who on March 13th suggested that the state might on that day have had as many as 100,000 cases of the Wuhan Flu.  That seemed to me unlikely given that at that time there were only 37 diagnosed cases, 7 hospitalizations and no deaths.

Flash forward to today.  Based on the generally assumed Rate of Infection (ROI) of 2.6, the state would by now have a half million cases or more.  Yet, as of this writing, the state’s Department of Health reports only 104 hospitalizations and 6 deaths from the coronavirus.  By way of comparison, 579 persons were hospitalized last week alone in Ohio for the seasonal flu.

The total number of confirmed Wuhan Flu cases in the state currently stands at 442.  How many more people have been tested but found negative?  This was impossible for me to find out. Ohio, unlike nearly all the other states, only reports those who have tested positive.  Moreover, Ohio is far behind other states in the number of people tested, even though it has, at almost 12 million people, the seventh largest population of any state.

The COVID Tracking Project, which is evaluating the 50 states in terms of their response to the epidemic, has given Ohio a “D” because of its slowness in testing and its incomplete reporting. 

Nevertheless, on Sunday, March 22nd, Governor DeWine put the entire state on lockdown.  “Every piece of evidence that I can lay my hands on indicates that we’re at an absolutely crucial time in this war and what we do now will make all the difference in the world,” he explained. “What we do now will slow this invader so our health care system ... will have time to treat casualties.”

One wonders what evidence he has seen to justify such an extreme action.  A lockdown will not only slow the spread of the Wuhan Flu, it will also bring the economy of the state to a grinding halt.  Businesses will be bankrupted, jobs will be lost, and savings will be depleted.  

People already anxious over the epidemic will now have a whole host of new issues to worry about, such as “What happens if I lose my health insurance?”  Anxiety and panic can be killers too.  

After being locked down for a couple of weeks, some people in the Chinese city of Wuhan began committing suicide by jumping off of the balconies of their high-rise apartment buildings.  

Would it not be better to protect those at high risk, the elderly and those with preexisting conditions, and let the rest of Ohio get back to their lives?  

The cure may be worse than the disease.  

Italy

Outside of China and Iran, about which we know nothing other than what their dictatorial rulers choose to tell us, the biggest tragedy is Italy.  As of Sunday, 59,138 were ill with the virus, and 5,476 Italians had died.  This means that roughly nine percent of Italy’s coronavirus victims have died, which is more than twice as high as China’s four per cent fatality rate. 

Italy was infected by Chinese travelers early on in the Wuhan epidemic, which is hardly surprising given the huge amount of human traffic between China and that country.  Over the past quarter century the Italian fashion industry has become heavily dependent on Chinese sweatshop labor working in warehouses all over northern Italy.  

There is an even closer geographic connection to the Chinese epidemic as well, since many of the Chinese immigrants, both legal and illegal, come from the city of Wenzhou.  This port city, south of Shanghai, has been hit so hard by the Wuhan Flu that it, like Wuhan itself, was put under quarantine for many weeks.

But what accounts for the alarmingly high percentage of fatalities?

The elderly are particularly vulnerable to the virus, and Italy has the second oldest population in the world.  The median age of Italy’s coronavirus patients is 67, while China’s was a much younger 46. 

But there is another factor at work as well.  According to Professor Walter Riccardi, who is an adviser to Italy’s minister of health, the high number of fatalities attributed to the Wuhan Flu may be largely a coding error.

Prof. Riccardi explains: "The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus.  On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 percent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 percent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity–many had two or three." 

So, at the present moment, it’s probably best not to be too alarmed by the numbers coming out of Italy, which may be exaggerated by a factor of eight.  Correcting for this would put the actual Wuhan Flu death rate a little above one per cent of those who have been tested.

Testing is Everything

At the outset of almost every epidemic, the fatality rate tends to be quite high, in large part because the only ones being tested are those already seriously ill. Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) offers the following example from the swine flu pandemic:

The overall case fatality rate as of 16 July 2009  (10 weeks after the first international alert) with pandemic H1N1 influenza varied from 0.1% to 5.1% depending on the country.  The WHO reported in 2019 that swine flu ended up with a fatality rate of 0.02%

In other words, the early estimates of the “case fatality rate” of the swine flu epidemic were anywhere from five to 200 times higher than the final fatality rate, as calculated by the WHO, once the influenza had run its course.  

“Evaluating Case Fatality Rate during a pandemic is a hazardous exercise,” the number crunchers at CEBM drily note.  They concluded that “Our current best assumption, as of the 22nd March, is the Infection Fatality Rate is approximate 0.20%.”

A fatality rate of 0.2 per cent would still pose a massive threat to the health of peoples the world over.  But it would be a vast improvement over the 1 per cent or more fatality rate that the most dire forecasts are based on.

And, as CEBM suggests, it is likely to come down further.

Steven W. Mosher @StevenWMosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order.


  coronavirus, statistics

Blogs

UPDATED: Italian priest dies after declining ventilator

The beloved priest who was known for his jovial character.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 11:01 am EST
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Father Giuseppe Berardelli Catholic Sat / Twitter
Maike Hickson Maike Hickson Follow Maike
By Maike Hickson

PRAYER PLEDGE: Rally around the daily Rosary to stop the coronavirus Sign the petition here.

March 24, 2020, 12:00 PM EST correction: The story widely reported in Italy of a priest giving up his ventilator for a younger coronavirus patient is only partially true. Crux Now reported today that the priest declined the ventilator because he simply could not tolerate using it due to preexisting health conditions. We have amended our report to reflect this. 

March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Father Giuseppe Berardelli, pastor of the parish of San Giovanni Battista in Casnigo in Bergamo, died overnight between March 15 and 16 in the hospital of Lovere, Italy. Italian media had widely reported that he died after he had given up his own ventilator for a younger coronavirus patient. 

The beloved priest who was known for his jovial character, was 72 and had been known for his many good deeds, such as the renovation of a Saint Don Bosco Oratory in his town. As a media report says about him: “Everyone remembers his smile and dynamism.”

According to the local media outlet Araberara, a long-time employee of the San Giuseppe retirement home of Casnigo relates how the parish community had bought a ventilator for their priest who had fallen ill with the coronavirus. Father Berardelli “gave it up of his own will to someone younger than he,” the unnamed employee relates, and this “even though he needed it.” 

“This is perhaps the best picture of the soul of a priest,” this employee concludes.  

A longtime friend of the priest, Giuseppe Foresti, told Crux Now, however, that Father Berardelli declined the ventilator for medical reasons. 

“The story about the respirator isn’t true,” he said, adding that it was “half-fake news.”

“The problem is that when he got to the hospital, they tried to put the respirator on him, but he refused (to take it) because he couldn’t handle it,” he said. Foresti said that his priest friend was already in poor health when he arrived to the hospital.

Berardelli had been in Casnigo since 2006 and he had devoted much time and energy in the renovation of the local Saint Don Bosco Oratory. He also was devoted to Our Lady and her special shrine in Casnigo, which is called Sanctuary of Madonna d’Erbia. In this shrine, there is a painting of Our Lady holding Baby Jesus which is said to have once been miraculously restored over night, after an angry farmer had slashed it.

Father Berardelli was described by Giuseppe Imberti, the former mayor of Casigno, as a “pastor loved by all.”

This priest is not the only Italian priest who has died of the coronavirus. According to a CNA report, at least 60 priests so far have died this month after contracting the coronavirus. CNA quotes the Italian bishops’ conference's own newspaper Avvenire as saying that 51 diocesan priests, as well as nine priests of religious communities have so far died. 

One local media report states that Father Berardelli “died on the field.” He is praised for his “smile that hid worries,” and for his “simple and outspoken way of great kindness and availability to everyone, believers and non-believers alike.” He was “loved by everyone,” the report continues, and he was still visited by parishioners of his former parish in Fiorano. He is also described as a “Marian priest.”

Foresti told Crux Now that Father Berardelli was still a role model and special person. 

“I can tell you that certainly Don Giuseppe was a special person, he really gave himself to the entire community,” he said. 


  catholic, coronavirus, giuseppe berardelli

Blogs

What was Pope Francis doing, asking for Buddhist leader’s blessing?

Late last year, Pope Francis met with the Buddhist 'Supreme Patriarch' and spoke vaguely of how 'religions' are 'beacons of hope.' A lot needs to be explained here.
Tue Mar 24, 2020 - 10:34 am EST
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Peter Kwasniewski Peter Kwasniewski Follow Dr. Peter
By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — On November 21, 2019, Pope Francis met with the Buddhist “Supreme Patriarch” at the Wat Ratchabophit Sathit Maha Simaram Temple in Bangkok and spoke vaguely of how “religions” are “beacons of hope” and “promoters and guarantors of fraternity.” He neglected to mention the basic truth that there is common brotherhood only in a common Father — the Father revealed in His Son Jesus Christ: “No one knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him” (Mt. 11:27).

Admittedly, it’s not necessary, and not even humanly possible, to speak every truth in every situation. Yet the salvation brought by Christ is not just one truth among many, but the central truth of our existence — the difference between a life lived well and a life lived in vain. One wonders what a pope is doing paying a personal visit to a Buddhist leader and requesting his blessing, as if he has something to give that Christ and His Church do not already have in a more perfect way, or as if there were no danger at all in such intercourse between fundamentally incompatible religions.

When Pope Francis next travels such a great distance, he might consider imitating his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, who walked straight into the Muslim camp and preached the Gospel to convert the sultan. But ardent believers are few and far between in this age of polite chitchat. The Lord who saith “I will shake the heavens and the earth” has been replaced by the handshake and the photo-op.

Thomas Merton toward the end of his career, until it was short-circuited in Bangkok, was interested in the question of what Buddhists and Christians — and more particularly, Buddhist and Christian monasticism — have in common. There is, after all, as St. Thomas Aquinas points out, some common ground between any two serious positions; it is just this common ground that often furnishes a foothold for the evangelist to begin making his case. It is well that we ask ourselves what the commonality consists in, and whether it hides a more profound opposition that deserves to be drawn out, so that we may avoid the error of seeing Christianity and Buddhism as two analogous paths toward the Ultimate and the Infinite, toward Personal Realization (or however someone in the Vatican Press Office might phrase it).

In order to accomplish this, we must look at the problem of desire, its effect of restlessness, the remedy of asceticism, and the result of peace.

St. Thomas teaches that common goods bring us together, while private goods drive us apart. Animals fight chiefly about goods that cannot be shared — namely food and sex (Summa contra gentiles 3.124; Summa theologiae 1.81.2). This is true of human beings, too, insofar as they live like animals: their concern is to get as much enjoyment, or as many bodily goods, as they can get, and since these goods are unable to be had by many at once and in the same respect, and since there is nearly always a scarcity of at least some goods at any given time and place, this leads to conflict, division, resentment, injustice, and violence. It is, in short, the logic of raw capitalism and of Marxism alike, for in both systems men must find ways to vent their mounting frustration with the inability to gather and enjoy bodily goods in proportion to the “infinity of desire.”

The remedy for this diseased condition is twofold: negatively, a mortification of desire, by which desire is restored to a healthy realism and moderation; positively, a yearning for and an increasing possession of spiritual goods, which are inherently limitless, ever available, and ever abundant and cause charity, peace, joy, and the other fruits of the Spirit mentioned by St. Paul in Galatians. The medieval mystic Meister Eckhart notes: “As far as you are in God, thus far you are at peace, and as far as you are outside God, thus far you are outside peace” (Talks of Instruction, 23).

It is here that we first see what looks like a correspondence between Christianity and Buddhism. Classic Christian spirituality emphasizes mortification of the flesh in order to achieve self-mastery and illumination; in like manner, Buddhism seeks to bring the restless wheels of desire to a standstill in order to achieve enlightenment.

In spite of his Assisi escapades, Pope John Paul II reminded us in his 1994 blockbuster Crossing the Threshold of Hope (1994) that the contrast between the two religions is far greater than the likeness:

The “enlightenment” experienced by Buddha comes down to the conviction that the world is bad, that it is the source of evil and of suffering for man. To liberate oneself from this evil, one must free oneself from this world, necessitating a break with the ties that join us to external reality ― ties existing in our human nature, in our psyche, in our bodies. The more we are liberated from these ties, the more we become indifferent to what is in the world, and the more we are freed from suffering, from the evil that has its source in the world.

Do we draw near to God in this way? This is not mentioned in the “enlightenment” conveyed by Buddha. Buddhism is in large measure an “atheistic” system. We do not free ourselves from evil through the good which comes from God; we liberate ourselves only through detachment from the world, which is bad. The fullness of such a detachment is not union with God, but what is called nirvana, a state of perfect indifference with regard to the world. To save oneself means, above all, to free oneself from evil by becoming indifferent to the world, which is the source of evil. This is the culmination of the spiritual process.

For Christians, the “culmination of the spiritual process” is not total detachment, but loving attachment to God — a personal God whom we can know and love, without being absorbed into Him and losing our identity, like a drop dissolved into the ocean. We do not lose all desire; we refine and intensify desire for what is really worth desiring.

Next week, I will resume with John Paul II’s intriguing assertion that the Carmelites begin where the Buddha ends.


  buddhism, catholic, ecumenism, indifferentism, pope francis, thomas merton