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April 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – What a crazy Holy Week! In addition to the absence of a public Mass in almost the whole world, including the Vatican, Pope Francis launched another Vatican commission to study women deacons. Moreover, Vatican News ran an article praising the beneficial effects for the planet of the coronavirus. Last but not least, the Mass against plagues was revised so to remove references to God’s wrath.

You might think that with almost all the of the Catholic churches of the world locked tight at this most sacred time of year, with no public Easter celebrations even at the Vatican, with donations to the Church in free fall, and with much of the world in fear and dread, the Pope would concentrate on calling the world to repentance to appease the just anger of God. But, of course, you’d be way off base. In fact, what did happen was quite the opposite.

The Vatican put out a new Mass last week, changing the original “Mass for Times of Pestilence” to remove mention of God’s wrath! As LifeSite reported, the Congregation of Divine Worship, invoking the authority delegated to it by Pope Francis, has issued a text for a special votive mass for pandemics that departs from ancient liturgical tradition by omitting any reference to divine wrath and chastisement for sins.

The new “Mass in Time of Pandemic,” was issued in response to popular request during the current COVID-19 crisis. Unlike the Traditional Latin Mass, which includes a “Votive Mass for the Deliverance from Death in Time of Pestilence,” the new “Mass in Time of Pandemic” seeks the mercy of God, asking for various forms of aid for those who are suffering from illness, those who have already died, their families, medical staff, and government officials.

The traditional “Mass for the Deliverance from Death in Times of Pestilence,” also asks for God’s mercy and aid, but in addition, asks for pardon for sins and speaks of the “scourge of Thy wrath.”

The differences between the two are striking. The entrance hymn of the Traditional Latin Mass (last issued in 1962), implores God to “be mindful . . . of Thy covenant and to say to the destroying Angel: Now hold thy hand, and let not the land be made desolate, and destroy not every living soul.”

However, the new version gives a brief entrance antiphon that merely states, “Truly the Lord has borne our infirmities, and has carried our sorrows.”

The special collect or opening prayer of the traditional version states, “O God, who does not want the death of the sinner but that he should repent: welcome with pardon Thy people’s return to Thee: and so long as they are faithful in Thy service, do Thou in Thy clemency withdraw the scourge of Thy wrath. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son…”

The new version’s collect instead asks for help, but without reference to sin or punishment.

And while all the world is distracted with the coronavirus, the liberal agenda being played out in the Vatican has not slowed down one bit.

During Holy Week Pope Francis appointed another commission to look into the possibility of women’s ordination as deacons. 

On April 8, the Vatican released a memo stating that the pontiff had decided “during a recent audience granted to His Eminence Cardinal Luis Ladaria, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [CDF]” to appoint a new commission on the “study of the female diaconate.” Unbelievable!

Beyond that, LifeSite reported on April 2 that Pope Francis, in a surprise move, dropped the historic and essential title “Vicar of Christ” from the 2020 Pontifical Yearbook, the Holy See’s annual directory, relegating the title to a footnote, calling it a “historical title.”

While previous yearbooks listed the title “Vicar of Christ” and the name of the reigning Pope under that title, this year’s annual directory simply lists the name “Jorge Mario Bergoglio,” the name of the man who became Pope Francis in 2013. The title “Vicar of Jesus Christ” stems from Holy Scripture where Jesus granted St. Peter the power of the keys in the Church.

Former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò reacted to this deletion of “the Vicar of Christ” by saying in a statement sent to LifeSite that the dropping of Pope Francis’ essential title “Vicar of Christ” from the 2020 Pontifical Yearbook is an act that appears to “officially alter the Papacy,” such that the Pope “no longer recognizes himself as guardian.”

“This change,” he continued, “in the layout and content of an official text of the Catholic Church cannot be ignored, nor is it possible to attribute it to a gesture of humility on the part of Francis, which is not in keeping with his name being so prominently featured.”

“Instead,” says Archbishop Vigano, “it seems possible to see in it the admission — passed over in silence — of a sort of usurpation, whereby it is not the “Servus servorum Dei” [The Servant of the Servants of God] who reigns, but the person of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who has officially disavowed being the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of the Prince of the Apostles and the Supreme Pontiff, as if they were annoying trappings of the past: only mere ‘historical titles.’”

The Pope also last week approved a new bishops’ body to make for a regional church with an “Amazonian face.” Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, announced a new Pan-Amazonian episcopal body that was based on recommendations in the Amazon Synod's final document. This is the another proof that Pope Francis did not abrogate or censor the Synod's controversial final document when publishing his post-synodal exhortation Querida Amazonia

And if you want an indication of what the new body will be up to, here’s the quote from the synod’s final document that references this. “We propose the creation of a Bishops’ organism that promotes synodality among the churches of the region, helps to express the Amazonian face of this Church, and continues the task of finding new paths for the evangelizing mission, especially incorporating the proposal of integral ecology.”

Speaking of the Vatican’s take on ecology, we got a very revealing glimpse into that last week too as Vatican News unbelievably published an article by a Jesuit that looked at the Coronavirus positively because it had environmental benefits. At LifeSite you’ll read that Vatican News, the Holy See’s official news service, published the article calling the deadly coronavirus an “ally” of planet Earth. The article, written by the Jesuit priest Father Benedict Mayaki, was entitled “Coronavirus: Earth’s unlikely ally,” and the secondary headline read, “The changes in human behavior due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic are yielding unintended benefits to the planet.”

The author, a priest, made no references to the tens of thousands of deaths attributed to the virus, except to say that the pandemic is “a global health concern.” However, there is a bright side, Mayaki wrote. “Earth is healing itself,” as a result of the reduction in human activity.

“In Italy, fish have returned to the canals in Venice. Less tourism and water transport have allowed the murky waters to settle…Migratory birds, including swans have been sighted gliding through the city’s waterways.” He also added that, “global reduction in air, land and sea travel is yielding benefits for the planet” by reducing carbon emissions. After much criticism Vatican News pulled the article.

The Vatican News article’s statements follow Pope Francis’ own statements along this line. In my show of March 31st on assessing the pope’s responsibility in the chastisement of the coronavirus, I spoke of how Pope Francis said the coronavirus was not God’s punishment but rather nature was having a fit because we failed to take care of the environment.

Since then, several Cardinals and Bishops have condemned such an approach but the Pope doubled down on that last week. He told The Tablet in an interview that, “We did not respond to the partial catastrophes. Who now speaks of the fires in Australia, or remembers that 18 months ago a boat could cross the North Pole because the glaciers had all melted? Who speaks now of the floods?” the Pope said. “I don't know if these are the revenge of nature, but they are certainly nature's responses,” he added.

Well, at least some people get it. LifeSite reported last week that German Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes has joined the growing number of Catholic leaders looking at the coronavirus pandemic as a chastisement. “God’s Word also clearly states that life contrary to God can lead to illness,” wrote Cordes, the former president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

He also said that reliable exegetes state that, “sickness is the wages of sin.” Among other biblical passages, Cordes pointed to the story of the paralytic in the Gospel of Mark, which “makes the link between illness and sin irrefutable.”

Also at LifeSite you can read that heroic Bishop Athanasius Schneider called the coronavirus pandemic “a divine intervention to chastise and purify the sinful world and also the Church.” Bishop Schneider singled out the Pope’s allowance of the Pachamama idolatry and communion in the hand as drawing down God’s justice.

He quoted from the book of Revelation in his remarks. “I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching…that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.”

“I am convinced,” Schneider commented on that scripture passage, “that Christ would repeat the same words to Pope Francis and to the other bishops who allowed the idolatrous veneration of the Pachamama and who implicitly approved sexual relationships outside a valid marriage, by allowing the so-called ‘divorced and remarried’ who are sexually active to receive Holy Communion.”

Bishop Schneider also mentioned receiving Holy Communion in the hand, a practice adopted locally first and then permitted in a widespread way by Pope Paul VI roughly 50 years ago. Schneider said that the practice “has led to an unintentional and intentional desecration [of] the Eucharistic Body of Christ on an unprecedented scale. For over fifty years, the Body of Christ had been (mostly unintentionally) trampled by the feet of clergy and laity in Catholic churches around the world. The stealing of sacred Hosts has also been increasing at an alarming rate.” According to Schneider, taking the Eucharist “directly with one’s own hands and fingers resembles ever more the gesture of taking common food.” For many people, His Excellency continues, this practice led to a weakened faith in the real presence. “The Eucharistic presence of Christ has, over time, unconsciously become for these faithful a kind of holy bread or symbol.”

The current situation, where in many parts of the world no public Masses are said, he added, “could be understood by the Pope and bishops as a divine rebuke for the past fifty years of Eucharistic desecrations and trivializations and, at the same time, as a merciful appeal for an authentic Eucharistic conversion of the entire Church.”

But it’s more than just those few cardinals and bishops. People generally can see what’s happening. A new poll we covered at LifeSite last week found that almost half of Americans see the coronavirus pandemic as a “wake-up call” from God and “to turn back to the faith.” One third see it as the “last days” as foretold in the Bible, according to a national poll. Moreover, Christians and non-Christians alike are turning to the Bible and religion as the crisis continues, the study found.

And if that’s not enough, famed wrestler and movie star Hulk Hogan encouraged his 2.2 million Twitter followers to do penance.

LifeSite reported that Hogan called the coronavirus “one of the most powerful gifts to our human race.” “[It’s] as powerful as it gets here on earth, thank you God. Only love HH.” He added an image of 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 to the tweet.

The Bible verse reads: “Whenever I hold back the rain or send locusts to eat up the crops or send an epidemic on my people, if they pray to me and repent and turn away from the evil they have been doing, then I will hear them in heaven, forgive their sins, and make their land prosperous again.”

The famous wrestler reiterated the call to penance later in the week saying, “Word up, can you handle the truth my brother.” “In three short months,” the message reads, “just like He did with the plagues of Egypt, God has taken away everything we worship. God said, ‘you want to worship athletes, I will shut down the stadiums. You want to worship musicians, I will shut down Civic Centers. You want to worship actors, I will shut down theaters. You want to worship money, I will shut down the economy and collapse the stock market. You don’t want to go to church and worship me, I will make it where you can’t go to church.’”

“If my people who are called by my name,” Hogan continues, quoting Scripture, “will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear form heaven and forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

“Maybe we don’t need a vaccine. Maybe we need to take this time of isolation from the distractions of the world and have a personal revival where we focus on the ONLY thing in the world that really matters. Jesus.”

But the best news of Holy Week that corresponds well to the greatest feast in the Church is the acquittal of His Eminence Cardinal George Pell after his unjust imprisonment of more than a year. In a type of resurrection for Cardinal Pell, the High Court of Australia acquitted the Cardinal of his convictions of historic child sexual abuse and released him from prison, in a unanimous decision by the court’s seven justices. Pell, 78, had been in prison since February 2019.

The charges had hinged on the uncorroborated testimony of one person!

The decision, announced Tuesday morning Australia time, brings a definitive end to the legal saga of the past several years. There will be no further re-trials or appeals – Pell is a free man.

And what was the first thing the Cardinal said about his freedom? In an interview with Catholic News Agency, he said, “What I am really looking forward to is celebrating a private Mass.” “It has been a very long time, so that is a great blessing.”

“Prayer has been the great source of strength to me throughout these times, including the prayers of others,” His Eminence continued, “and I am incredibly grateful to all those people who have prayed for me and helped me during this really challenging time.”

And that, my dear friends, is our recipe in our imprisonment too. As we live out this Easter time locked in our homes let prayer be our great source of strength. And with longing hearts have our first wish upon our release be able to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receive Our Risen Saviour in Holy Communion.

From all of us at LifeSiteNews, I wish you and your families a happy and holy Easter. God bless you and I’ll see you next time.

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, CEO and editor-in-chief of He and his wife Dianne have eight children and they live in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario, Canada.

He has spoken at conferences and retreats, and appeared on radio and television throughout the world. John-Henry founded the Rome Life Forum, an annual strategy meeting for life, faith and family leaders worldwide. He is a board member of the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family. 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.