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EDINBURGH, Scotland, January 7, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) —  I think I broke a law yesterday. 

I’m not sure. Maybe I just violated a rule. Or failed to follow government advice. At any rate, I went to Epiphany Day Mass, thinking it would be my last opportunity to attend Mass in person for weeks. I had no idea that public worship had been suspended from 12:01 AM that morning, and I don’t think the priest did either. 

Earlier this week, the First Minister announced that public worship in Scotland would not be permitted until February 2. I duly reported this, and when I saw news that the ban did not come into effect until Friday, January 8, I sent a correction to an editor.  

By then an English Conservative MP, Sir Edward Leigh, had written a letter to the First Minister pointing out that banning religious worship without evidence it was a threat to public health is a violation of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Scottish Catholic bishops added their mild protest, worth quoting at length:

… [W]e are also perplexed by the decision, given that the stringent measures taken since last March to ensure public safety in our churches have been effective. No evidence has been forthcoming to justify the inclusion of places of worship as sources of infection. Without such scientific evidence these restrictions will appear to Catholics to be arbitrary and unfair. Moreover, significant number of other sectors similarly restricted last March alongside public worship – such as construction, manufacturing and elite sports – have now been left free to continue in operation.

We also note that, in England, the essential contribution of public worship to the spiritual welfare of all citizens during this crisis has now been endorsed by the decision not to close places of worship while the Scottish Government has apparently retreated from this view, causing dismay and confusion.

We are very aware of the disappointment these closures will cause not only to our own Catholic community, but to many of our fellow-Christians and those of other faiths in Scotland. We wish to emphasise again the spiritual, social and psychological benefits provided by continuing public worship, and we ask for these to be taken into full account in future decisions. Public worship is a human right and is a duty humanity owes to God. More concretely, Catholics need the Eucharist and the Sacramental encounter with the LORD as necessary to their spiritual wellbeing and their ultimate salvation.

While we unequivocally share the common goal of protecting public health, we urge the Scottish Government, when the present measures are reviewed later in January, to reconsider these restrictions in the light of the above concerns.

But instead of reconsidering, late on Tuesday night the Scottish Government moved up the ban on public worship to Wednesday, thus leaving Catholics at risk of a £60 fine for attending Epiphany Mass. I wonder if the Scottish government had only just learned that there was an Epiphany Mass, and that January 6 is usually a Holy Day of Obligation in Scotland, or that religious folk don’t restrict their public religious observances to the weekend. Naturally, I also wonder if this was their way of showing the Auld Kirk who is boss. 

I must say, learning about the late-night date-switch made me very cross, and I hadn’t enjoyed a lengthy period of good mood to begin with. Sir Edward Leigh’s fraternal intervention—he is the President of the Catholic Union of Great Britain—was taken with ill grace by those Catholic Scots whose hatred for English “Tories” far outweighs their love for the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar. I had been reading their thoughts, and the thoughts of other Catholic Scots who believe more in the efficacy of the lockdowns than in the unique virtues of public worship, with deep shame.

It’s all so cowardly. There are Catholic Scots who are so frightened of the virus that they would rather nobody at all went to Mass, even though there is no evidence that anyone in Scotland has been infected at public Masses since they resumed in mid-July. It would surely be strange if there was: for five months most church-going Catholics in Scotland assembled in well-ventilated churches built for 200 or more in groups of 40, masked, hands sanitized at the door, praying at least six feet apart from each household group, entering through one door, leaving through another. Some parishes even suffered from over-enthusiastic lay volunteers who hissed at suspected infractions, alienating Catholics who dislike being nannied at Mass. My community was more fortunate: we had just one mild-mannered (if large) young man to tick off names on the reservation list, give instructions, and watch the spy. 

Oh yes, there was a spy. This unpleasant—or perhaps just disturbed—woman would come into the church to count our numbers and report to goodness knows whom. I am ashamed to say that she, too, is a Catholic, and her behavior was not something I expected in a country where Catholicism was brutally oppressed for 233 years and then marginalized for 200 more.  

As of December 26, Scottish churchgoers were forced to halve our numbers to 20, and one priest I know coped with that by saying two short Masses in the same time it usually takes him to say one. He had already added a 5pm Mass. On that first Sunday Mass of 20, I kept looking over my shoulder to see if the spy had sneaked in to count. 

It would be untrue to say that I never expected anything like this to happen in my lifetime. I received the sacrament of Confirmation before the sudden fall of the Berlin Wall, and while pondering what my new responsibilities might entail, I decided they included running the risk of being martyred by Communist invaders. Despite my ordinary 1980s Catholic education, I had read a lot about the martyrs, and I believed a martyr’s crown was worth any unpleasantness Mr Chernenko could devise. So, yes, it has occurred to me that a civil power might one day criminalize public worship. 

What did not occur to me was that this could happen in a Western democracy, especially one that should be chastened by its long history of oppressing and marginalizing religious minorities. But an even worse surprise is that there are Catholics so frightened of dying in a few months of a respiratory illness (instead of in a few more years of cancer, heart failure, dementia or pneumonia) that they are firmly opposed to re-opening their churches to anyone, even when there is no evidence that public worship, carried out in the above-mentioned circumstances, spreads the disease. This terror seems strange in people who purport to believe in an eternity of bliss after death. 

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PETITION: Urge Catholic bishops to refuse Holy Communion to pro-abortion Biden
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PETITION UPDATE (3/15/21) - 

Reports suggest that the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference (USCCB) is preparing a vote on what to do about pro-abortion Joe Biden (and, presumably, other abortion-promoting politicians) who continues to present himself (themselves) for Holy Communion.

Public excommunication would be a suitable response for Biden's obstinate, public and grave sin of scandalously promoting abortion.

Please continue to SIGN and SHARE this important petition.



Since Joe Biden was sworn-in on the 20th of January, he has wasted no time in signing Executive Orders to destroy the protections which former President Trump offered to the unborn and to the innocence and modesty of children of the United States.

In one executive order, Biden rescinded the Mexico City Policy prohibiting the federal government from spending taxpayer monies on abortion and the promotion of abortion.

And, in another executive order, Biden seeks to force girls' athletic programs, restrooms, and locker rooms to accept gender-confused males.

Since the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was shamefully silent throughout the presidential campaign on the pre-eminent issues of abortion and gender ideology, and what Biden vowed he would do as president, it is cold comfort that their pro-life office is now speaking up about this Administration's wilful disregard for human life and for God's design of human nature (i.e., two biological sexes).

Stated plainly, Joe Biden is as bad as he said he would be, and the bishop, acting in unison (as the USCCB) have an obligation to the Lord (first) and to the faithful (second) to refuse Holy Communion to this grave public sinner.

With all due respect to these bishops, they diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by dialoguing with a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

A man who continues to use the church as a backdrop for statements about how "Catholic/religious" he is, but, at the same time, is now doing everything in his power to protect the murder of the innocent, needs to publicly repent before dialogue can begin.

The bishops should not dialogue with or congratulate someone who has publicly betrayed the Church's teaching and who is leading others astray.

It's an embarrassment and a scandal for the bishops to continue to allow him to receive Holy Communion.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition today!



Prior to the election on November 3, the U.S. bishops did not address Joe Biden’s anti-Catholic position regarding faith and morals as a unified body.

The USCCB, the organization to which every U.S. bishop belongs and which is staffed and led by bishops, remained disgracefully silent in the run-up to the election.

What were the bishops afraid of, losing their charitable tax status with the IRS, or being deprived of fat checks from the HHS (immigration programs) and USAID (foreign aid programs)?

Or, were they just too cowardly to clearly declare Christ's law to be above man's law and risk the ire of a Joe Biden as president?

Either way, the bishops’ lack of clarity in this regard is a terrible scandal in itself and probably greatly contributed to the possible election of a pro-abortion, anti-Catholic Catholic to the presidency.

Given the fact that exit polling shows Catholics split their vote 50-50 for Trump and Biden, even a slight deviation in the heavily-Catholic swing-states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania could have produced different results.

The bishops could have spoken out against Biden’s pro-abortion stance collectively, but, again, they were overwhelmingly and shamefully silent.

Because of this, they will be at least partly responsible for the policies advanced by a Biden administration, in the event that Biden is sworn into office.

However, the bishops can, even now, mitigate the damage done by their inaction by taking the following steps: 1) Speak with one voice, as the USCCB, and plainly condemn Biden's pro-abortion stance; 2) Publicly advise Biden not to present himself for Holy Communion because of his scandalous position on abortion and homosexual "marriage;" and, 3) Tell Biden to publicly repent of publicly promoting the wilfull murder of the preborn, sins against nature, and diminishing the natural family.

Thankfully, some individual bishops have spoken out forcefully on Biden's scandalous behavior, and his standing in the Church.

On November 9, Archbishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas tweeted: “A dark cloud has descended on this nation when the USCCB and Planned Parenthood speak in unison in support of a Biden-Harris administration that supports the slaughter of innocents by abortion for all 9 months of pregnancy.”

Additionally, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Colorado and Archbishop Charles Chaput have both declared publicly that Joe Biden “should not receive Holy Communion."

But, to add insult to injury, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. has said that he will give Holy Communion to Biden because “it’s a matter of the responsibility that I have as the archbishop to be engaged and to be in dialogue with him, even in those areas where we obviously have some differences.”

And, Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware and Bishop McElroy of San Diego also congratulated Biden in statements, but they have not indicated whether or not they would administer Holy Communion to him.

With all due respect to these bishops, they diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by dialoguing with a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

A man who uses the church as a backdrop to make sickening political advertisements about how "Catholic/religious" he is, but, at the same time, says that he will do everything in his power to protect the murder of the innocent, needs to publicly repent before dialogue can begin.

The bishops should not dialogue with or congratulate someone who has publicly betrayed the Church's teaching and who is leading others astray.

It's an embarrassment and a scandal for the bishops to continue to allow him to receive Holy Communion.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition today!




Cardinal Raymond Burke has stated that Democratic candidate Joe Biden should not receive Holy Communion because of his support for abortion.

In an interview for Thomas McKenna's Catholic Action for Faith and Family podcast, Cardinal Burke states the following (starting around 5:00):

First of all, I would tell him [Biden] not to approach to receive Holy Communion, out of charity toward him, because that would be a sacrilege and endanger the salvation of his own soul.

But, also, he should not approach to receive Holy Communion because he gives scandal to everyone, because if someone says, 'I'm a devout Catholic," and, at the same time is promoting abortion, it gives the impression to others that it's acceptable for a Catholic to be in favor of abortion.

Of course, it's absolutely not acceptable, and never has been, and never will be.

We give thanks for Cardinal Burke's frankness and clarity. And, we call on every U.S. Catholic bishop to follow Cardinal Burke's lead and call out Joe Biden for his bloody-minded hypocrisy on the issue of abortion.

To reiterate: You cannot be a Catholic and support abortion.

Thank you for continuing to sign this urgent petition.



The Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, keeps claiming to be Catholic but has said he will do everything in his power to support abortion.

And, with his pick of California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, Biden has just cemented abortion into the Democrats' 2020 presidential ticket.

Indeed, Harris is vehemently pro-abortion.

During her time as attorney general of California, Harris played a key role in defending Planned Parenthood over its sale of aborted baby parts (which violated multiple federal laws, according to undercover video of abortion industry personnel).

And, last year, Harris unveiled a plan to essentially force pro-life states to seek permission from the federal government before pro-life laws can take effect.

Additionally, Harris has dangerous views on religious liberty and freedom of speech.

Harris displayed anti-Catholic bigotry in the confirmation hearings of Judge Brian Buescher. Harris cited his membership in the “all-male society” the Knights of Columbus and its stances against abortion and same-sex “marriage” as grounds for rejecting Buescher for a federal district court in Nebraska.

And, David Daleiden, head of the pro-life investigative group Center for Medical Progress, wrote that from his firsthand experience, he considers Harris the “greatest threat to First Amendment civil rights our country has ever seen.”

Joe Biden has seriously erred by taking on Kamala Harris as his running mate, further distancing himself from the truths of the Catholic Faith, especially that every life is sacred from conception till natural death.

Please CLICK HERE to read an article which details one U.S. bishop's warning about the Biden-Harris ticket.

And, please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition.


Of course, these two things are incompatible: you cannot be Catholic and pro-abortion.

And, a "Catholic" politician's responsibility in this regard is absolute: On pain of serious sin, he or she can never promote abortion because abortion is the wilful murder of innocent preborn human beings, and also because doing so causes grave scandal to the Church and the faithful.

Please SIGN this urgent petition asking the bishops of the United States to refuse to give Holy Communion to Joe Biden until he publicly repents from his scandalous promotion of abortion.

Biden recently promised to “codify Roe v. Wade” as president, adding, "my Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate a woman’s protected, constitutional right to choose."

And, since starting his latest run for the presidency, Biden also flip-flopped against the Hyde Amendment, saying that he would allow federal funds to be spent on abortion - a position he claimed to be against for more than 40 years.

In short, Joe Biden will do everything in his power to enable and defend the wilful murder of innocent preborn human beings.

So, this should not be a hard decision for our U.S. bishops. In fact, in another circumstance, it was already done by an Illinois bishop.

Indeed, Bishop Paprocki, of Springfield, Illinois, invoked Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law to withdraw Holy Communion from two Illinois state politicians who had worked to enact radical new abortion legislation in 2019.

Canon 915 states: "Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

Of course, no-one, least of all the bishops, wants anyone to be deprived of Holy Communion.

A politician who publicly and obstinately advocates for the murder of innocent preborn babies puts himself out-of-communion with the Church and her teaching. 

Pro-abortion politicians should not think that they can advocate for the murder of the unborn and receive the Body of Christ at the same time. This would be to defile the Eucharist while giving scandal to the faithful.

Depriving politicians of Holy Communion is not just meant to prevent scandal; it is also designed to bring a grave public sinner to repentance. In this way, such an action is meant to be for the good of their souls, too.

Thank you for SIGNING this urgent petition which calls on the U.S. Catholic bishops to refuse to admit Joe Biden to Holy Communion until he publicly repents from his scandalous promotion of abortion.


Joe Biden: I support abortion ‘under any circumstance’ -

Catholic priest denies Joe Biden Holy Communion for pro-abortion stance -

Cardinal McCarrick and the Concealing of Rome’s Position on Denying Communion  -

**Photo Credit: Joshua Roberts / Getty Images

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“Any risk, no matter how small, must be avoided” typed one of my fellow Catholics, apparently without shame. Had she forgotten all the Middle Eastern Christians who have regularly risked (and often lost) their lives to attend public worship during her lifetime? Had she forgotten what the martyrs of Soviet Communism were willing to risk for Christ? Does she think the underground Church in China is, in fact, just asking for it? And is she completely insensitive to the pain of fellow Scots in great distress because regular reception of the Eucharist is the only thing standing between them and mental collapse?   

From 1613 until his arrest in 1614, St. John Ogilvie, a Jesuit priest, celebrated underground Masses for courageous Scottish Catholics. His flock were willing to risk prison, heavy fines, and the rack for the sake of attending Mass. The Catholic Relief Act came into effect in Scotland in 1793, sparing us from such punishments, although anti-Catholic prejudice carried on into the 20thcentury. What has happened since then to turn so many of us into cowards? And when will the bishops apply to the European Court of Human Rights? 

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Dorothy Cummings McLean is a Canadian journalist, essayist, and novelist. She earned an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Toronto and an M.Div./S.T.B. from Toronto’s Regis College. She was a columnist for the Toronto Catholic Register for nine years and has contributed to Catholic World Report. Her first book, Seraphic Singles,  was published by Novalis (2010) in Canada, Liguori in the USA, and Homo Dei in Poland. Her second, Ceremony of Innocence, was published by Ignatius Press (2013). Dorothy lives near Edinburgh, Scotland with her husband.