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April 28, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) It’s always an honor speaking with Bishop Athanasius Schneider. Today on my podcast we discussed the impact the coronavirus is having on Catholics across the world. 

In addition to stating that he believes the virus is punishment from God meant to “awaken” the world and the church to do penance for crimes inside and outside the Church — especially liturgical abuse and abortion — His Excellency told me that governments around the globe are using COVID-19 as a pretext to “implicitly persecute” Christians by forcing churches to close.

“The bishops and the bishop’s conferences — and even the Holy See — should insist on the governments to give to the churches at least the same rights…as they give to the stores where people can buy food,” His Excellency said. “If the government denies the church the same rights as they give to a store, then this is discrimination of the religion.”

I asked Bishop Schneider what he thinks about liquor stores still being open and how some bishops are directing their priests not to offer public Masses.

Bishops should “be happy” that priests are using their “creative zeal for the faithful” to ensure they receive the sacraments, he said. Bishops who fail to insist that churches should be allowed open are committing a “grievous omission.”

During the plague of his own time, Bishop Schneider continued, St. Charles Borromeo “ordered that the priests should celebrate Holy Mass in public squares, public places on the streets – on the corner of the streets – to multiply masses so that people could assist from their windows.”

LifeSite correspondent Dorothy Cummings McLean recently reported on how the United Kingdom may remain on lock down until after Christmas. Bishop Schneider said England’s restrictions are “completely against every reasonableness of proportionality.” The orders issued in Great Britain by the government, he said, are “a kind of discrimination and persecution of the church.”

His Excellency continued his remarks by theorizing that “it could be that we are going through a time of the catacombs — a kind of underground church. But we needn’t be fearful. We have to be courageous, because the church has a lot of…experience being a catacomb church, an underground church. And in those times of catacombs, God gave plenty of spiritual fruits for the renewal of the Church.”

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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John-Henry is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews.com. He and his wife Dianne and their eight children live in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario, Canada.

He has spoken at conferences and retreats, and appeared on radio and television throughout North America, Europe and Asia. John-Henry founded the Rome Life Forum an annual strategy meeting for pro-life leaders worldwide. He co-founded Voice of the Family and serves on the executive of the Canadian National March for Life Committee, and the annual National Pro-Life Youth Conference.

He is a consultant to Canada’s largest pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition, and serves on the executive of the Ontario branch of the organization.  He has run three times for political office in the province of Ontario representing the Family Coalition Party.

John-Henry earned an MA from the University of Toronto in School and Child Clinical Psychology and an Honours BA from York University in Psychology.

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