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April 2, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – As it stands right now, every Catholic diocese in the United States has banned public Masses from being held. Some have gone so far as to disallow priests from hearing confession and administering Last Rites. In effect, Catholics in the U.S., and elsewhere across the world, are cutoff from the sacraments.

Earlier this week, a group of prominent Catholic theologians, writers, and public figures signed an open letter urging bishops to “do everything” they can to “make the sacraments more available to us” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The open letter, spearheaded by Janet Smith, a former professor of moral theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan, is titled “We Are An Easter People.” 

Dr. Smith spoke to me about the letter on my podcast earlier today, explaining why it is so devastating to not have access to Holy Mass or Anointing of the Sick as a lethal pestilence ravages our world.

The letter notes that while abortion facilities and liquor stores remain open, “churches have been closed” and “the administration of the sacraments curtailed or suspended altogether.” Catholics, it observes, are “being deprived of what is central to our Faith—the sacraments.”

The letter says its intention is “to show the hunger of the Catholic faithful for the Sacraments and for spiritual support given the current crisis we face as Catholics and as a human beings during a global pandemic.”

It goes on to call on bishops to ask civil authorities to allow outdoor masses, to let them visit those who are sick in hospitals, to keep churches open, and to find a safe way of distributing the Eucharist, among other things.

“The Bishops, our Spiritual Fathers, must take active and public roles in bringing to our wounded world, the sacramental graces needed to survive the COVID-19 pandemic,” the petition reads.

A few of the many Catholics who have added their name to the open letter include pro-life activist Abby Johnson; Matt Walsh of The Daily Wire; Phil Lawler, editor of Catholic World News; and LifeSiteNews columnist Peter Kwasniewski. 

Urgent appeal to the bishops of the world: Feed your flock! Sign the petition here.

Dr. Smith has appeared on my podcast before. We talked about the sex abuse crisis in the Church and what she called the “disappointing” papacy of Pope Francis.

She is truly a great warrior for the faith in these troubled times. Pray that her efforts yield fruit. We need the sacraments now more than ever.

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 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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