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Wed Mar 18, 2020 - 10:15 pm EST
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LifeSite’s previous (and future) live updates on the coronavirus crisis and how it relates to issues our readers care about can be viewed HERE.

 

March 19, 2020, 1:11 p.m. EST: 39 Catholic priests in Italy have died from the coronavirus, Deacon Nick Donnelly reports.

March 19, 2020, 11:25 a.m. EST: Santiago Abascal, the leader of the Spanish pro-life political party VOX, has made a full recovery from the coronavirus after a week of quarantine.

There are no more public Masses in Germany.

Seminarians of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) in Wigratzbad have been exposed to the coronavirus. Twelve FSSP members are sick, but it’s unclear if they have been tested for the coronavirus. 

There have been numerous uplifting stories about priests blessing quarantined towns with the Blessed Sacrament.

Father Anthony Manuppella, pastor of St. Gianna Beretta Molla Parish in Northfield, New Jersey, flew over the entire Diocese of Camden with the Eucharist in a monstrance and a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A Catholic pilot helped them set up the flight from Atlantic City International Airport, according to a local media report.

“In an interview before takeoff, Manuppella drew parallels to popes who processed through the streets of Italian cities when the plague marched across Europe, killing millions,” the Press of Atlantic City reported.

In New Rochelle, New York, Carmelite priest Fr. Justin Cinnante stood was driven around in the truckbed of a pickup. He also held the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance.

March 18, 2020, 10:13 p.m. EST: 

March 18, 2020, 7:41 p.m. EST: Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-FL, is the first member of the U.S. Congress to test positive for coronavirus. His district includes Ave Maria, Florida, where Ave Maria University is located.

March 18, 2020, 4:46 p.m. EST: Bishop Gregory L. Parkes of the Diocese of St. Petersburg in Florida has cancelled all Masses “effective immediately...until it can be determined that it is safe to return to normal schedules and public worship.” Earlier this morning (see map below), Florida and Maine were the only states on the east coast of the U.S. where Masses had not been cancelled.

Bishop Barry Knesout of the Diocese of Richmond is self-quarantining himself “out of care and caution.”

The Diocese of London, Ontario, Canada, cancelled all Masses yesterday until at least April 30. Bishop Ronald Fabbro also cancelled all Confessions “except in the case of danger of death.”

Fabbro directed that “the Eucharist will not be taken to parishioners who are homebound. Instead, parish teams are encouraged to ask volunteers to keep in contact with these people through telephone calls or other electronic means. Such calls could be a simple chat or praying a decade of the Rosary with the person.”

The Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality in Massachusetts has ordered hospitals to stop “nonessential, elective invasive procedure[s]” to free up resources for the fight against the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, but abortions will continue as before.

LifeSite’s Dr. Maike Hickson has spoken with people on the ground in Italy, who share a grim look into daily life there now.

Bishop Marian Eleganti, auxiliary bishop in the Swiss Diocese of Chur, has been silenced by Bishop Pierre Bürcher, the apostolic administrator of the diocese of Chur, for criticizing the Church’s response to coronavirus.

Cardinals Raymond Burke and Robert Sarah, known for their orthodoxy, urged Catholics not to lose hope.

Burke wrote on Twitter:

The prolonged assault of the coronavirus naturally leads to sadness and fear. But we know that Christ is the Lord of nature and of history. Using natural means to defend ourselves against the pestilence, we do not forget our primary means of defense: prayer, especially the rosary and Eucharistic adoration. Christ never abandons us.

March 18, 2020, 11:10 a.m. EST: The Archdiocese of Ottawa also cancelled Masses yesterday.

New York City may issue a “shelter in place” order to its roughly 8.6 million residents, forcing them to stay in their homes unless leaving for a medical reason or shopping for “essentials.” A similar order has already been implemented in San Francisco.

The National Abortion Federation is calling “on leaders to ensure that outpatient abortion clinics can remain open and urges hospitals to continue to provide abortion care [sic],” insisting abortion is “an essential health service.”

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands sent an email to supporters yesterday evening making similar points.

“Continuing to see patients at our health centers, providing all services – including essential abortion care [sic] – to anyone who is in need is critical...Working hard to slow down the spread of the virus, all our health centers have appropriate screening precautions in place, and all Planned Parenthood staff who can telecommute are doing so – reducing the number of people in the clinic and reducing the risk of exposure for everyone,” the head of the abortion business’s regional affiliate wrote. 

March 18, 2020, 9:47 a.m. EST: The U.S. is closing its northern border to Canada. No “non-essential traffic” will be allowed, and trade will not be affected, President Trump tweeted.

According to the Washington Post and the Seattle Times:

The U.S. government is in active talks with Facebook, Google and a wide array of tech companies and health experts about how they can use data gleaned from Americans’ phones to combat the novel coronavirus, including tracking whether people are keeping one another at safe distances to stem the outbreak.

In recent interviews, Facebook executives said the U.S. government is particularly interested in understanding patterns of people’s movements, which can be derived through data the company collects from users who allow it. The tech giant in the past has provided this information to researchers in the form of statistics, which in the case of coronavirus, could help officials predict the next hotspot or decide where to allocate overstretched health resources.

“We’re encouraged by American technology companies looking to leverage aggregate, anonymized data to glean key insights for covid-19 modeling efforts,” said an official with the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

March 18, 2020, 9:27 a.m. EST: Catholic Masses in England and Wales are cancelled “until further notice” beginning on Friday, March 20, although churches remain open.

March 18, 2020, 9:19 a.m. EST: 

March 17, 2020, 5:15 p.m. EST: The ever-expanding list of Catholic dioceses that have cancelled Mass now includes Canada’s Diocese of Hamilton, Archdiocese of Edmonton, and the Archdiocese of Toronto.

March 17, 2020, 5:06 p.m. EST: The Archdiocese of Cape Town in South Africa has suspended all public Masses in the foreseeable future, including the Easter Triduum. This comes in the wake of President Ramaphosa declaring the nation to be in a state of emergency on Sunday. There have been 62 coronavirus cases in South Africa so far.

China has announced it’s kicking some American journalists out of the country.

In a new paper, epidemiologists are saying that if the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 is not stopped, deaths in the U.S. could potentially reach 2.2 million deaths and Britain 510,000. 

March 17, 2020, 12:38 p.m. EST: LifeSite’s Dorothy Cummings McLean has written a blog about life in the U.K. right now.

Amazon is restricting items it’s carrying in its warehouses through April 5. Vox explains:

Early Tuesday morning, Amazon said it would be “temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock and deliver these products to customers.” By “prioritizing,” Amazon means it will no longer accept new shipments to its warehouses for discretionary items through April 5. During that time, Amazon will continue to sell all types of products on its websites, but sellers listing discretionary items will have to store and ship them on their own if they aren’t already in, or on their way to, an Amazon warehouse as of Tuesday.

March 17, 2020, 12:01 p.m. EST: Samaritan’s Purse, the charity run by Franklin Graham, son of the famed evangelist and preacher Billy Graham, announced today it is airlifting a 68-bed emergency field hospital to Northern Italy.

“The cargo plane will carry approximately 20 tons of medical equipment, a specialized respiratory care unit developed specifically in response to COVID-19, and 32 disaster response specialists including respiratory therapists, doctors, and nurses,” the charity announced. “The Emergency Field Hospital will be set up just outside of Milan, Italy, where the coronavirus pandemic has overwhelmed the local medical infrastructure, leaving many families without access to critical care. The country is now reporting hundreds of deaths each day.”

The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), a group of priests whose canonical status is irregular but has inched closer and closer to full Communion with Rome under Pope Francis (and, of note, can licitly hear Confessions thanks to a directive from the Pope), is having a Mass at its chapels each day “for protection and deliverance.”

“In these times, not only do we want to take the precautions to prevent the spread of disease, but we must redouble our prayers and penance, begging for God’s mercy,” said Father Jurgen Wegner. “We will offer a Continuous Mass. This Mass will be the Mass of the day of Lent and the intention is ‘for protection and deliverance.’ We will assign each priest of the District a day where he will say his Mass for this intention and will let you know which priest will say the Mass and where.”

On March 14, Wegner issued spiritual and practical directives to those under his pastoral care. Wegner wrote that the measures are “drastic” and “they affect our spiritual lives, the public practice of our faith, the praise we want to give to our God and Master.”

Few of us have experienced a situation like this in our lives. Suddenly everything has changed! In the blink of an eye, what we took for granted is now very special. Some feel threatened and insecure by a small virus that has overturned public life around the globe.

We know that God rules all things with His almighty power! With our words, we've always confessed this truth. Now, however, facing an inescapable threat, this truth is imposed on us and it challenges us to learn it in reality: He, God, is the Master! We depend on Him. He alone knows how the crisis will develop. We will find out how it will affect us in time.

Even though we take all necessary precautions, for now, plenty is and will always be out of our control. We are in God’s hands! Feeling insecure and aware of our powerlessness, how will we respond? Some, completely overwhelmed by fear, turn towards themselves: they empty the shelves of the stores, thinking of no one else. It is striking how egoism and selfishness blossom in such circumstances and how we can become imprisoned by a merely natural approach. While some panic, others remain unconcerned. Many refuse to acknowledge the fact of their human frailty. They do not want to face the Lenten advice: “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return...”

As Catholics, we can take this threat as a real spiritual challenge. Let us learn to humble ourselves. We should turn toward God more fervently, giving ourselves in His hands. Let recognize God is in charge of this trial and ordeal, confiding in Him with total faith. Even though He can enter our lives with a glove of iron, we know it His loving hand that touches us. 

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has suspended all public Masses effective at 12:00 noon tomorrow. The archdiocese’s guidelines for priests are not as strict as some in other places. According to a press release from the archdiocese:

Though public Masses are suspended in all churches in the Archdiocese, the right and need of the faithful to hear the Word of God and celebrate the Sacraments is not put aside. Pastors, along with all those who work with them, will be as attentive as possible to all the spiritual, pastoral, and charitable needs of the people they serve.

Priests will continue to offer the sacrifice of the Holy Mass during this period and to honor all requested Mass intentions.

Churches can remain open as a location for private prayer at the discretion of the pastor.  Baptisms, Confessions, Marriages, and Funerals will take place as usual but with due regard for the limitation of participants and reasonable social distancing.   

In conjunction with directives already in force in hospitals and institutions, all visits to the sick with Holy Communion, including in private homes, by priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are suspended.  In such instances, only priests will be available to celebrate the Sacraments for those in immediate danger of death. In all circumstances, government and health agency directives for group size and social distancing are to be observed as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia strives to meet the pastoral and temporal needs of all those in need.

March 17, 2020, 11:35 a.m. EST: 40 Days for Life, the twice-yearly prayer and vigil campaign to end abortion, reports that a Planned Parenthood employee in Pittsburgh coughed and sneezed “on pro-life volunteers peacefully praying outside of the [abortion facility] building.” 

Shawn Carney, CEO of 40 Days for Life, commented:

Four 40 Days for Life volunteers have been urged to seek testing for COVID-19 after a Pittsburgh Planned Parenthood employee conspired to infect the group holding a prayer vigil outside the abortion facility by intentionally coughing and sneezing on them. Despite CDC recommendations to cover all coughs and sneezes, this individual, who works with the public in a medical facility, purposefully violated these needed precautions in the wake of a global pandemic. We are calling for this individual to be removed from their position immediately.

In addition to advising the exposed volunteers to receive testing for COVID-19, 40 Days is complying with the CDC recommendations of having less than 50 people at any event for the next eight weeks. Additionally, we are canceling any gatherings that could potentially endanger volunteers and encouraging those who feel ill to stay home and follow CDC guidelines.

March 17, 2020, 11:21 a.m. EST: The government of Ontario has declared a state of emergency.

“We are facing an unprecedented time in our history,” said Premier Doug Ford. “This is a decision that was not made lightly. COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions. We are taking this extraordinary measure because we must offer our full support and every power possible to help our health care sector fight the spread of COVID-19. The health and wellbeing of every Ontarian must be our number one priority.”

Ford’s declaration and its associated orders legally force the following establishments to close immediately:

  • All facilities providing indoor recreational programs;
  • All public libraries;
  • All private schools as defined in the Education Act;
  • All licensed child care centres;
  • All bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery;
  • All theatres including those offering live performances of music, dance, and other art forms, as well as cinemas that show movies; and
  • Concert venues.

“Further, all organized public events of over fifty people are also prohibited, including parades and events and communal services within places of worship,” the government said in a press release. “These orders were approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and will remain in place until March 31, 2020, at which point they will be reassessed and considered for extension, unless this order is terminated earlier.”

This follows a similar action in Quebec, which declared a state of emergency on Friday

March 17, 2020, 10:34 a.m. EST: Aleteia reported yesterday that over the past six weeks, six Italian priests have died from the coronavirus and another 20 are hospitalized with it.

March 17, 2020, 9:35 a.m. EST: The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has suspended public Masses.

March 17, 2020, 9:27 a.m. EST: The Archdiocese of Portland, led by Archbishop Alexander Sample, has cancelled all Masses in his archdiocese following directives from the Oregon’s governor banning gatherings of more than 25 people. 

“This is by far one of the most difficult communications I have ever written because of the impact it will have on the spiritual and faith lives of so many of us,” Sample wrote in his announcement. “May our hunger for the Mass and the Body of Christ be a source of grace for us.”

While governors mandate the closure of businesses, churches, and other institutions, abortion facilities seem to largely have remained open. Delta abortion facility in Louisiana is open today; Planned Parenthood’s comments to the media about its response to the coronavirus suggest most of its abortion facilities remain open. 

March 16, 2020, 4:38 p.m. EST: A source in Poland told LifeSiteNews that there were restrictions on Mass this weekend after all: only 50 people or fewer were allowed in churches. The faithful were dispensed from their Sunday obligation.

Switzerland has become the latest country to enlist the help of its military, according to the BBC. The country is “facing at least a month with everything but the bare essentials closed. There will be no bars, no cafes, no restaurants, no sports, no nightclubs, no cinemas, no museums.”

“We are at war,” French President Emmanual Macron repeatedly said today as he announced draconian measures locking down the country. 

All public Masses in the Diocese of Arlington have been suspended, including all weekday and Sunday Masses, according to an email from a parish in the diocese.

March 16, 2020, 2:06 p.m. EST: The U.S. Supreme Court has postponed oral arguments in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James Catholic School v. Biel, Becket Law announced. In these cases, two California Catholic elementary schools defending their right to select their religion teachers without interference from the government. The hearing was originally scheduled for Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Its new date has yet to be announced.

March 16, 2020, 1:34 p.m. EST: “Millions of Americans began their work week holed up at home against the coronavirus Monday as the escalating outbreak shifted the nation’s daily routines in ways never before seen in U.S. history,” the Associated Press reported today. “The U.S. surgeon general, meanwhile, said the number of coronavirus cases in the United States has reached a level comparable to what disease-battered Italy recorded two weeks ago — a signal that infections are expected to rise in America.”

The European Union is considering tighter travel restrictions. 

Cuba has said it will allow a transatlantic cruise ship carrying passengers infected with the coronavirus to dock on its shore. 

Pro-life activist Jason Jones has shed light on some inconsistencies in the statements of Hawaii health professionals about the availability of coronavirus tests. An urgent care employee punched him when he questioned her on Facebook live. 

Woolworths, an Australian supermarket, has announced it will have a “dedicated shopping hour” for the elderly and disabled to safely purchase necessities.

March 14, 2020, 10:19 p.m. EST: Other notable coronavirus updates from today include:

  • U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put the British army “on standby to keep food on supermarket shelves and petrol [gas] stations stocked with petrol as the coronavirus crisis intensifies.”
  • Many Catholic Masses in Ireland have been cancelled. The public health authorities on the Emerald Isle apparently are limiting public gatherings to 100 people.
  • Spain and France are both on lockdown. “In Spain, people are banned from leaving home except for buying essential supplies and medicines, or for work,” the BBC reported. “With 191 deaths, Spain is Europe's worst-hit country after Italy. In France, where 91 people have died, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and most shops are now shut.”
  • Ren Zhiqiang, a high-profile Chinese tycoon, has disappeared after criticizing Xi Jinping’s response to the coronavirus, which originated in China.
  • President Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus. The wife of Spain's prime minister has tested positive, according to the Washington Post.
  • The Vatican has announced that “because of the current global public health emergency, all the Liturgical Celebrations of Holy Week will take place without the physical presence of the faithful” and “until April 12 the General Audiences and the Angelus presided over by the Holy Father will be available only in live streaming on the official Vatican News website.”
  • Georgia and Louisiana have both delayed their primary elections because of the coronavirus.
  • Beginning Monday through May 11, the U.S. Defense Department has banned military members from travelling domestically. “Service members will be authorized local leave only, although the Pentagon says exemptions may be granted ‘for compelling cases,’” Politico reported. “The Defense Department has also suspended ‘unofficial visits’ to the Pentagon and other facilities in the Washington area.”
     

March 14, 2020, 9:29 p.m. EST: The Archdiocese of Baltimore has cancelled all public Masses indefinitely. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has issued an executive order that says people who violate his ban on gatherings of more than 250 people will face up to a year in jail and $5,000 in fines.

March 14, 2020, 9:24 p.m. EST: Rev. Patrick Mahoney, a Presbyterian minister and veteran pro-life, human rights activist, told LifeSiteNews:

A.W. Tozer said, “A scared world needs a fearless church.”‪ During these difficult days of the coronavirus, it is critical that the church provide hope, comfort, inspiration, and support. What the church must never become, is an extension of the uncertainty and fear swirling around them. The Christian community must be transformational and never reactionary. In light of that, it is troubling to see so many churches cancelling their worship services. While each pastor must ensure the physical welfare of their parishioners, church leaders also have a sacred responsibility to oversee the spiritual and emotional welfare of their members. Given the current data surrounding Covid19, churches can put in safeguards to protect their most vulnerable members and still ensure a safe environment for community worship. Finally, it is very concerning to see governmental officials dictate to local churches how they are to conduct their spiritual life together and when and how they are gather.

Rev. Mahoney will be livestreaming prayer outside the U.S. Capitol tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. EST.

March 14, 2020, 1:53 p.m. EST: The Archdiocese of New York, which serves 2.81 million Catholics, has cancelled Masses this weekend.

March 14, 2020, 1:21 p.m. EST: In his signature ecclesial prose, Vatican whistleblower and former nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has written about the coronavirus situation:

What we are witnessing in these hours is dramatic — certainly throughout Italy, but in a tragically exemplary way, in Rome, the heart of Catholicism. 

The scenario is all the more disconcerting as what is at stake is not only public health but the salvation of souls — and for some time now we, as Pastors, have stopped inflaming the hearts of our faithful with the desire of eternal salvation. We have thus deprived them of those supernatural gifts which make us capable of facing trials here below, even the assaults of death, with the power of faith and that spark of inexhaustible and unshakable hope which comes to us from our yearning for the destiny of glory for which we were created.

The statements of the Italian Episcopal Conference, those of the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, as well as the surreal and spectral images that have come to us from the Vatican, are many expressions of the darkening of the faith that has struck the heights of the Church. The Ministers of the Sun, as St Catherine of Siena was fond of calling them, have caused the eclipse, and delivered the flock to the clouds of thick darkness (cf. Ezekiel 34:12). 

His full statement can be read here.

March 13, 2020, 10:04 p.m. EST: As Catholic bishops around the world cancel public Masses and shutter churches, President Trump has declared this coming Sunday, March 15 as a “National Day of Prayer.” 

“I am suspending for the time being the public celebration of Mass, both for Sunday obligation and daily Masses, beginning with this weekend’s Saturday afternoon Masses,” Bishop Mark Brennan of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston wrote to Catholics in West Virginia, the entire state of which is in his canonical jurisdiction. “I would remind our priests that the Roman Missal makes provision for a ‘Mass without a Congregation’ and I ask them to offer that Mass privately for their people.”

Milkwaukee’s Bishop Jerome Listecki has dispensed his flock from their Sunday Mass obligation through March 29, 2020, but didn’t prohibit priests from offering Mass publicly. He encouraged priests to “recommend to parishioners that communion be received in the hand versus on the tongue,” despite the fact that receiving Communion on the tongue is likely far more sanitary and Communion on the hand is supposed to be the exception, not the rule, around the world.

“This is not to dismiss personal piety and practice, but rather to make a choice that is best for the good of all. In the same manner, I am discouraging reception of the Eucharist via the Precious Blood. However, we must make sure some portion of the Precious Blood remains available for those who are gluten intolerant,” Listecki continued. 

“The Sign of Peace is part of the ritual of the Mass – it cannot be eliminated,” he insisted. “However, how we express the exchange of peace with one another can be either eliminated or announced to only include a simple bow or nod.” In the Traditional Latin Mass, the faithful do not shake hands or converse duringg the Sign of Peace.

“We don’t anticipate cancelling Sacraments – Mass, Reconciliation, Confirmation – but we will continue to monitor what is happening,” Listecki added.

Meanwhile, a bioethicist who thinks people should die at age 75 is advising former Vice President Joe Biden on the coronavirus. 

The Biden advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, wrote in 2014 that he “hope[s] to die at 75,” because “living too long” renders people uncreative, unable to work, “faltering and declining,” and “transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.”

Biden is 77.

March 13, 2020, 6:48 p.m. EST: The Archdiocese of San Antonio and the Diocese of Dallas have suspended public Masses, denying over 1 million Catholics access to the Eucharist this weekend. The Diocese of San Diego, led by Bishop Robert McElroy, is suspending Masses starting on Monday. McElroy recently claimed that climate change is more deadly than abortion.

March 13, 2020, 5:52 p.m. EST: The Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York has affirmed the right of the faithful to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.

“Catholics are hereby dispensed from their obligation to attend Sunday Mass for the weekends of March 14-15, March 21-22 and March 28-29,” the diocese also announced. “Churches will remain open and Mass schedules will remain mostly unchanged. However, the obligation is lifted for those three weekends. We will continue to monitor official health advisories and update these directives accordingly.”

The faithful were reminded, “Catholics who attend Holy Mass are not required to receive Holy Communion more than once per year. No one is under any obligation to either receive or distribute Holy Communion.”

“Parishioners who prefer to receive Holy Communion on the tongue still have that right, though they may freely choose to receive the Sacred Host in their hands during this precautionary time. (See Redemptionis Sacramentum, no. 92)”

The 11:00 a.m. EST Sunday Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, will be offered “for all those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe as well as those working to provide for the health and safety of persons around the world.” According to the archdiocese, Bishop Nelson Perez will offer that Mass, which will be livestreamed.

Several hours south, the Diocese of Arlington inexplicably deleted from its website a statement that noted public health officials have said Communion on the tongue is not less sanitary than on the hand. 

March 13, 2020, 5:35 p.m. EST: A source who just arrived in Germany has told LifeSiteNews that Masses in Munich are cancelled. European countries are instituting more travel bans. The BBC provides the following list:

  • Denmark: Bans all foreigners from entering without a valid purpose (such as residency or emergency family visit)
  • Poland: Foreigners banned from entering from Sunday
  • Czech Republic: Bans all foreigners from entering the country, except those with residence permits. Bans its own nationals from leaving
  • Slovakia: Closes borders to all foreigners except Poles and those with a residence permit
  • Austria: Closes three land border crossings with Italy to all foreigners, except those with a medical certificate issued within four days. No restriction on Austrian nationals
  • Ukraine: Closes border crossings to foreigners (except diplomats) for two weeks
  • Hungary: Closes land borders with Austria and Slovenia
  • Slovenia: Closes six border crossings with Italy. Bus and train travel suspended. Foreigners may only enter with a medical certificate issued within three days
  • Serbia: Closes border crossings with Romania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Croatia
  • Romania: Closes borders with Hungary, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Moldova
  • Albania: Closes borders with Montenegro, Kosovo and North Macedonia

March 13, 2020, 5:24 p.m. EST: Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, has more details about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s efforts to exclude pro-life language from the massive coronavirus spending bill making its way through Congress:

Congress's coronavirus bill was supposed to be about saving lives – not taking them! But tell that to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who doesn't seem to mind exploiting a global tragedy to help out her pals at Planned Parenthood. Turns out, while Democrats are bashing the president for not working fast enough, they're bogging down the debate with secret language on abortion.

The revelations shouldn't have caught anyone by surprise, but when a White House official broke the news that Pelosi tried to bury taxpayer-funded abortion in the stimulus bill, even MSNBC was stunned. Openly liberal host Joy Reid didn't hold back her amazement, tweeting, “Wow... @kasie just reported that Republicans' objections to the House Democrats' emergency coronavirus bill include issues related to abortion. What does that have to do with COVID19...?”

Absolutely nothing, which is why so many Republicans – including the president – were so frustrated. Asked if he supported Pelosi's first proposal, the president didn't mince words. “No,” he fired back, “because there are things that are in there that have nothing to do with what we are talking about.” The original 124-pager wasn't serious, he said. This crisis is not the time “for them to get some of the goodies that they haven't been able to get for the past 25 years.” Not only is blowing a hole in the Hyde amendment the surest way to stop progress, it's also the best way to out themselves as hypocrites. “Pelosi wanted to sneak in a billion dollars in funding for abortion programs through the coronavirus stimulus package. Don't ever tell me the Democrats aren't politicizing this situation,” Human Rights editor Ian Cheong argued.

Even more astounding, Pelosi had the nerve to stand in front of the press and argue that this bill was about “putting families first.” If her colleagues had objections, she challenged, they should “save it.” “We need to just make a decision to help families right now...” If she really believed that, House Minority Steve Scalise (R-La.) wanted to know, why was she trying to stuff the stimulus with “liberal fantasies that have nothing to do with the coronavirus?” Simple. Because even in a crisis, the only economy Democrats care about is the abortion industry's.

Perkins also shared his thoughts on state governors pressuring churches to shut down Sunday services, allegedly to stop the spread of coronavirus:

For pastors across the country, the coronavirus is creating a different kind of crisis. Through any other national disaster, emergency, or terrorist attack, the mission of the church seemed clear: to be a refuge, a help, a haven. Now, with governors like Andy Beshear (D-Ky.) calling on sanctuaries to close their doors, Christian leaders are facing a new challenge – how to respond when the threat is in our pews?

Like a lot of people, Kentucky's Pastor Aaron Harvie, couldn't understand why Beshear was singling out churches to begin with. If there's a mandate, he said, his church would obey it. I agree. But why target sanctuaries and not schools? “I'd ask the governor,” Harvie said, “Who were your advisers? ...These are areas that you're treading into of which you don't actually have direct responsibility or authority.” Besides, he pointed out, “If we shut down services, it would add to fear.”

...

Well, there is certainly plenty of affliction now, as we fight for the health of our nation. Which is why, as our pastors gather Christians all around the country this Sunday, I encourage them to make this weekend a time of prayer for our nation, for our families, our neighbors, our communities. Together, let's heed the instruction of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians and not let anxiety overcome us, but rather, let us together give thanks that we live in a nation where we can openly seek God, get on our knees, and ask Him to intervene and stop this virus.

Veteran pro-life and human rights activist Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition has expressed similar concerns on social media.

March 13, 2020, 4:23 p.m. EST: Pro-lifers in Washington, D.C will continue their usual presence outside the city’s enormous Planned Parenthood tomorrow, LifeSiteNews has learned, and are encouraged to take “reasonable precautions” and stay home if they don’t feel well. 

March 13, 2020, 4:13 p.m. EST: The Archdiocese of Toronto has cancelled all weekend Masses. Cardinal Thomas Collins issued the following statement (emphasis in original):

In light of the present situation unfolding before us regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide, our primary concern is the spiritual and physical health and welfare of the faithful and of all those who serve at our parishes, recognizing that we also have a duty to care for the community at large and the most vulnerable among us.

We have provided several updates over the past six weeks, guided by the best advice from local health officials. In all of this, we are guided both by our commitment to cooperate effectively with the civic officials responsible for the common good and also by our commitment to provide for the spiritual well-being of the faithful in our Catholic community. We need to care for others and to respond to these challenges with accurate and credible information.

The Chief Medical Officer of the Province of Ontario is asking that all public gatherings greater than 250 people be cancelled at this time. For this reason, as many of our weekend Eucharistic celebrations will exceed this number, I ask that our Catholic parishes cancel public Mass for the faithful this weekend; we will assess this decision for next weekend and any other that is required after consulting health officials. For this weekend and any other which may be required, I grant the faithful dispensation from their Sunday obligation. Churches should remain open for private prayer and Eucharistic Adoration. Daily Mass will continue during the week.

“Regarding Holy Communion, some health experts have indicated that it is preferable for communicants to receive the Eucharist in the hand rather than on the tongue,” Collins also wrote. “To respect the right of the faithful to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at this time I would ask that all those who wish to receive in this way be directed to a designated priest, deacon, or Extraordinary Minister. Where there is only the priest present for distribution of Holy Communion, those who wish to receive communion on the tongue can be invited to come forward after those who have received on the hand.”

Catholics around the world are apparently asking for the intercession of St. Corona, who was martyred in 165 A.D. at age 16.

March 13, 2020, 3:54 p.m. EST: “This day should be an inspiration to every American,” Vice President Mike Pence said as he praised Trump’s response to the coronavirus. Pence, who led the White House’s coronavirus task force, was viciously mocked by many in the media after a photo surfaced of him and others praying before a meeting.

March 13, 2020, 3:33 p.m. EST: President Trump has declared a national emergency.

“I’m also asking every hospital in [the] country to activate its emergency preparedness plan,” he said. 

He is granting the Department of Health and Human Services the broad authority to waive laws to enable telehealth; the power to waive certain federal license requirements related to medicine; the ability to waive requirements that limit hospital beds and length of stays; the ability to waive requirements that people be hospitalized for three days before entering a nursing home; and the authority to waive rules “that severely restrict where” hospitals can care for patients in their facilities.

“No resource will be spared. Nothing whatsoever,” he promised. Trump also promised the availability of far more coronavirus testing thanks to a new partnership with the private sector. 

“We don’t want everyone running out and taking” tests unless they have symptoms, Trump noted. He said the locations of testing spots, some of which apparently will be drive-throughs, will likely be announced Sunday evening.

He predicted the availability of 5 million coronavirus tests within a month but said “I doubt we’ll need anywhere near that.” 

“The goal is for individuals to be able to drive up and be swabbed without having to leave your car,” he explained.

Google has worked with the federal government “to develop a website” quickly – “unlike websites of the past,” Trump added, an apparent swipe at Obamacare’s disasterous website roll-out – to help people locate testing sites and complete questionnaires about their symptoms and potential risks of having contracted the virus. Leaders of Walmart, Walgreens, Target, and CVS were with Trump in the Rose Garden and offered reassurances that their stores will remain open.

“This will pass,” said Trump. “We’re gonna be even stronger for it...a tremendous amount has been learned.”

The stock market has already begun to climb.

March 13, 2020, 3:25 p.m. EST: The Catholic bishops of the Netherlands are the latest prelates to cancel weekend Masses because of coronavirus. Daily Masses are allowed to continue; the bishops are attempting to ban Communion in the hand.

March 13, 2020, 3:10 p.m. EST: Today’s episode of The John-Henry Westen Show brings an on-the-ground update from Rome.

In Canada, Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton has quarantined himself after experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement:

With the worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus, we are confronted once more with the fragility of our lives, and again we are reminded of our common humanity — that the peoples of this world are our brothers and sisters, that we are all one family under God.

God does not abandon us, he goes with us even now in this time of trial and testing. In this moment, it is important for us to anchor our hearts in the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Now is the time to intensify our prayers and sacrifices for the love of God and the love of our neighbor. Let us draw closer to one another in our love for him, and rediscover the things that truly matter in our lives.

United with our Holy Father Pope Francis, let us pray in solidarity for our brothers and sisters here and around the world who are sick. Let us pray for those who have lost loved ones to this virus. May God console them and grant them peace.

We pray also for doctors, nurses, and caregivers, for public health officials and all civic leaders. May God grant them courage and prudence as they seek to respond to this emergency with compassion and in service to the common good.

In this time of need, I invite all the faithful to seek together the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and I share this prayer with you:  

Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son,
as you did at the wedding in Cana.

Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.

For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.

In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.

We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.

Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

March 13, 2020, 3:03 p.m. EST: As Americans await President Trump’s address to the nation during which he is expected to declare a national emergency, Monsignor Rossi announced that the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will indeed “suspend the public celebration of Mass and there will be no scheduled Confessions effective Saturday, March 14, until further notice, as directed by the Archdiocese of Washington.”

March 13, 2020, 2:30 p.m. EST: In Colorado, the Archdiocese of Denver, the Diocese of Colorado Springs, and the Diocese of Pueblo have all suspended public Masses, citing orders from the state’s governor against large gatherings. The rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Monsignor Walter Rossi, has announced that the shrine will remain open this weekend. Rossi is currently taking a leave of absence from the board of the Catholic University of America as he is investigated for alleged homosexual predation.

Rossi’s decision comes as welcome news to Catholics in the nation’s capital whose parishes are all closed this weekend by order of Archbishop Wilton Gregory. The basilica is not a diocesan despite being physically in the Archdiocese of Washington. A LifeSiteNews article on this is forthcoming.

March 13, 2020, 1:24 p.m. EST: Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of the Archdiocese of Newark have joined Archbishops Gregory and Etienne and Bishop Taylor, cancelling public Masses as well. “All liturgical services” in the Chicago archdiocese are banned beginning tomorrow. Newark will still have daily Masses, but not public Masses on the weekend. 

The PGA tournament has become the latest sports championship to be cancelled. 

March 13, 2020, 12:30 p.m. EST: Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas was the first bishop in the United States to cancel all public Masses up to and including Easter Sunday. He also suggested that it “would be problematic” to anoint the sick if they are infected by the coronavirus. Read LifeSite’s article on this from this morning here.

March 13, 2020, 12:06 p.m. EST: A letter from Vicar of Rome Cardinal Angelo DeDonatis announcing that the Eternal City’s parish churches will be reopened says that the March 12 decision to close all churches in Rome was made in consultation with Pope Francis.

March 13, 2020, 11:58 a.m. EST: Brazil’s President Bolsonaro says he does not have coronavirus

A White House source has informed LifeSiteNews that pro-lifers have succeeded in ensuring that the Hyde Amendment, which bans most federal dollars from  funding abortions, will be applied to the coronavirus testing and spending bill that Congress is expected to pass later today. U.S. House Democrats have apparently conceded on that front.

March 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The coronavirus pandemic has churches in multiple countries closed and Masses in some archdioceses cancelled indefinitely, political leaders self-quarantining themselves, and governments enacting strict measures to try to contain the spread of the virus.

The situation is rapidly changing. LifeSiteNews will be providing live updates relevant to our readers on this page. 

In the U.S., it’s “certainly going to get worse before it gets better,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the government’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases predicted this morning. “There's no doubt we have not peaked yet.”

This morning, the Diocese of Rome announced it is reopening its parish churches for prayer, although Masses are still suspended. Additionally, the churches of religious and monastic communities are supposed to stay open. Access, however, is limited to “the same communities that habitually use them,” since they are living there. Others are not allowed to enter, according to the new decree.

Churches have been closed to the faithful in both Italy and Slovakia.

Polish bishops, however, have called for more Masses in response to the coronavirus, saying that it would be “unimaginable” to close churches. More Masses will enable smaller congregations, they said, and “just as hospitals treat diseases of the body, so the Church serves to, among other things, treat illness of the soul.” The Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa will have an extra daily Mass prayed for the intention of ending the coronavirus outbreak.

In the United States, Archbishop Paul Etienne has suspended all public Masses in the Seattle archdiocese. Etienne released a video Wednesday explaining that he had introduced the ban “out of an extreme measure of caution” and reminded his priests of their obligation to say Mass every day.

Last night, Washington, D.C.’s Archbishop Wilton Gregory announced that all public Masses are suspended until further notice and Catholic schools in the archdiocese are closed for two weeks. The governor of Maryland, into which Gregory’s archdiocese extends, has banned gatherings of more than 250 people.

Bishops in Quebec, Canada have followed suit. Masses are also cancelled in Belgium.

In Philadelphia, Bishop Nelson J. Perez has taken the less extreme step of suspending his flock’s obligation to attend Sunday Mass this week instead of forbidding them the holy sacrifice. The bishops of Austria have similarly released Catholics from their Sunday obligation, as have the bishops of Ireland.

The miraculous pools at the shrine of Lourdes, France have been closed since March 1 in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Scottish seminarians studying at Rome’s Pontifical Scots College have been sent home. Christendom College sent students studying abroad through its famed Rome program home.

Many U.S. universities are extending spring break and moving classes to online formats. At some schools, students are not allowed back on campus once they have left. The NBA has suspended its season. So has professional soccer in the U.K.

Political figures exposed, begin self-quarantine 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now self-isolating and his wife Sophie is confirmed to have coronavirus. The couple recently returned home from London, England.

In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro’s press secretary, Fabio Wajngarten, tested positive for coronavirus. As Wajngarten met with President Donald Trump over the weekend, this has led to questions about the American president’s health. However, President Trump has stated that he is “not concerned.” This morning, it was reported that President Bolsonaro has coronavirus, but he has tweeted that his test was negative. President Trump is expected to address the nation at 1:30 p.m. EST today.

An attendee at the massive conservative conference CPAC, which took place at the end of February, tested positive for coronavirus, leading to concerns about how many people the person was in contact with.

Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are self-quaranting along with Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Doug Collins of Georgia, Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Mark Meadows of North Carolina. All are Republicans. Rep. Don Beyer, a Virginia Democrat, is also self-quarantining. He announced he’d had dinner with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley of California has closed her Capitol Hill office for the week.

The mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, has announced that he is also self-quarantining. So has the Sunshine State’s Gov. Rick Scott.

A Washington, D.C.-based staffer for Senator Maria Cantwell, D-WA, has tested positive for coronavirus. “Cantwell is closing her D.C. office for the remainder of the week for a deep cleaning,” The Hill reported. 

Congress remains open as of now. Canada’s Parliament has shut down.

The leader of Spain’s pro-life, populist party Vox has tested positive for coronavirus.

Travel restrictions

The United States has shut its borders to travelers from Europe who are neither U.S. citizens nor residents. The countries affected by this ban are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. President Trump announced this travel ban in a speech from the Oval Office on Wednesday night.

U.S. citizens and residents returning home from Europe will be expected to self-isolate for 14 days.

Non-citizens and non-residents who have been in China and Iran in the past 14 days will also be refused admittance. U.S. citizens and residents will be allowed home if they land at one the 11 airports offering health screening. According to CNN, these are Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York (JFK), Newark (New Jersey), San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington.

The U.S. is not alone in closing its borders to Europeans. The Czech Republic has also announced that it will close its borders to non-Czechs traveling from Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, and the U.K., as well as from China, Iran, and South Korea.

Australia will not permit non-Australian travelers from China, Iran, Italy, and South Korean to enter for 14 days after leaving those countries. Australians traveling from these nations are being required to self-isolate for two weeks after returning home. 

Austria has banned travelers from China’s Hubei Province (where the virus originated), Iran, Italy, and South Korea from visiting the country unless they have a recent medical certificate declaring them free of the coronavirus.

Hong Kong will not permit any non-resident who has been in South Korean or China’s Hubei Province for the past two weeks, or who has a Chinese passport issued in the Hubei Province, to enter Hong Kong. Hong Kong residents returning home from those regions will have to self-isolate for two weeks after their arrival.

According to CNN, which has a comprehensive list of travel restrictions, India is suspending all travel visas and has placed a two-week quarantine on all travelers who have recently visited China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and Spain.

Italy has closed a number of its airports down completely to passenger travel. Rome’s Ciampino airport will be shut to passenger traffic from midnight Friday. Terminal 1 at Rome’s Fiumicino airport will close on Tuesday.

Canada has not imposed travel restrictions.


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