Ontario bishop warns priests of ‘prosecution’ if they don’t enforce his rigid mask, communion-in-hand rules
LONDON, Ontario, December 8, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – An Ontario bishop warned priests in his diocese that they may face “prosecution” along with the closure of their churches unless they strictly follow his COVID-19 protocols that include banning people who don’t wear masks from entering a church and forcing the faithful to receive Holy Communion on their “bare hand.”
Bishop Ronald Fabbro of the Diocese of London admitted in his Dec. 1 dictum that his new protocols “go beyond the requirements in most health unit orders and local by-laws.”
Ontario’s Ministry of Health states on its website on a page titled Face coverings and face masks (updated November 20) that people in the province when they go out of their homes “must use a face covering (non-medical mask, such as a cloth mask) in public indoor spaces and whenever physical distancing is a challenge.” The policy, however, states that citizens “do not need to wear a face covering” if they “have a medical condition that inhibits your ability to wear a face covering.” The policy makes it clear residents of Ontario “do not need medical documentation to support any of the exceptions.”
While Bishop Fabbro acknowledges in his new COVID protocols that there are exemptions for those who “have a medical condition and for children,” he goes beyond the provincial protocols by demanding that Catholics who claim an exemption from wearing a mask must present a signed document from a healthcare professional attesting to their condition.
“Those seeking an exemption from wearing a mask in our churches must bring their pastor, prior to 1 January 2021, evidence from their physician, nurse practitioner, social worker, psychologist or occupational/respiratory/physical therapist attesting to their condition,” he stated.
And, even despite having such an exemption, the bishop still requires such people to “wear a mask” while entering and exiting the church, thus opposing Ontario’s Ministry of Health’s directives that people who are medically exempt “do not need to wear a face covering.”
The bishop tells priests that those who persist in not wearing masks “should be informed by registered or ‘express’ mail that they will not be allowed into the church should they present themselves again.”
“It may be helpful to inform such people that their names will be made known to greeters at all Masses, so that their presence will be monitored. The greeters then need to be informed. This directive applies equally to those who remove masks once they are in their seats. After a polite request and refusal, they should be served with notice by mail.”
Fabbro states that his new protocols “help prevent people from taking advantage of the exemptions for personal reasons.”
Leading doctors and researchers claim that wearing a mask does little in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
U.S. Dr. Simone Gold of American Frontline doctors stated in October that the “facts are not in dispute: masks are completely irrelevant to blocking the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” This is largely because the pores of most masks are simply too large to catch the microscopic virus. Some have pointed out that using a mask against the virus is like trying to stop mosquitoes with a chainlink fence.
The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in April by five doctors and scientists titled “Universal Masking in Hospitals in the Covid-19 Era.” The study stated the following: “We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection.”
“What is clear, however,” the study states, “is that universal masking alone is not a panacea,” at which point the doctors worry that “focusing on universal masking alone may, paradoxically, lead to more transmission of Covid-19 if it diverts attention from implementing more fundamental infection-control measures.”
In their concluding paragraph, the doctors make the stunning statement that masks have become a “talisman” that may help increase healthcare workers’ perceived sense of safety, well-being, and trust in their hospitals, adding that “such reactions may not be strictly logical.”
“One might argue that fear and anxiety are better countered with data and education than with a marginally beneficial mask,” they conclude.
Sixteen scientists published peer-reviewed research in the Annals of Internal Medicine last month in which they found that wearing a face mask did not significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19. The study was titled Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers. They concluded, “The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50 percent in a community with modest infection rates, some degree of social distancing, and uncommon general mask use.”
Canadian Dr. Roger Hodkinson, a medical specialist in pathology and virology, a former chairman of the Examination Committee in General Pathology for the Royal College of Physicians of Canada, and current chairman of a biotechnology company in North Carolina selling COVID-19 tests, told Edmonton City Council in a meeting last month that using masks to prevent the spread of the virus is “utterly useless,” noting that “there is no evidence base for their effectiveness whatsoever.”
“Paper masks and fabric masks are simply virtue-signaling. They’re not even worn effectively most of the time. It’s utterly ridiculous,” Hodkinson said.
Holy Communion in ‘bare hand’ only
Bishop Fabbro in his new protocols also stresses his previous rule that Catholics must receive Holy Communion “only in the hand.” The bishop cracks down on faithful Catholics who believe, following Catholic tradition, that only the priest’s consecrated hands should ever touch the sacred host.
“With the restriction of receiving Holy Communion only in the hand, some of the faithful are presenting themselves with pyxes in the Communion procession with the hope that a Host will be placed in the pyx for them, so that they can receive the Eucharist without touching it with their hands. In the Roman ritual, self-communicating is reserved only to priests and bishops. The faithful may not present themselves for Holy Communion with the intention of receiving the Eucharist from a pyx, a small cloth, gloves, or anything other than their bare hand. Therefore, this practice must stop where it has happened, and the faithful need to be catechized about due reverence when receiving the Eucharist,” the bishop states.
Many bishops have banned communion on the tongue on account of the coronavirus. The Catholic Church, however, teaches in her 2004 instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum that “each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.” The Church reaffirmed this teaching in the midst of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, making it clear that a pandemic did not negate this teaching.
Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, a Thomistic theologian and liturgical scholar, told LifeSiteNews in July that bishops who ban Holy Communion on the tongue are abusing their authority.
“Many bishops are abusing their authority right now because … they’re supposed to uphold Canon Law and Canon Law is really clear that the faithful have the right to receive communion on the tongue. That's it,” he said.
Retired Polish Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga last March warned bishops and priests who insist on giving Communion in the hand that their actions put them in danger of “hell.”
“The coronavirus is being used to break people’s consciences,” Lenga said, noting that such priests and bishops do not respect that which is sacred while forcing others to violate their consciences. “I am calling on them to stop, or they’ll end up in hell for doing this,” he said.
Bishop Fabbro in his new protocols also suggested “best practices” for the hearing of confessions, including that “pieces of paper and pens/pencils are there for the penitent to write his/her name and phone number, which is then given to the priest for contact-tracing purposes.”
“The names will be sealed in an envelope and opened by the parish only if needed to trace possible exposure to a positive case,” the bishop states.
The Ontario bishop has previously justified denying the sacrament of confession to Catholics due to the coronavirus outbreak. Last March, he stated that “all confessions are cancelled, except in the case of danger of death.” He elaborated in a further statement that month that all “‘drive-thru’ confessionals are simply not acceptable.”
Fabbro concluded his directives with a warning to priests of what could happen if they fail to comply.
“All pastors/administrators must be vigilant to maintain safe environments according to the diocesan protocols, and provincial and local laws. They have a responsibility to ensure that these provisions are put into practice in our parishes. Failure to comply could lead to prosecution and to the closure of specific churches or all churches in our diocese or province,” he states.
Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Mary Most Holy in Astana, Kazakhstan, criticized bishops in May as “fake shepherds” for their “anti-pastoral measures” against the faithful at a time when many bishops were closing church doors and banning all access to the sacraments.
“Instead of good shepherds, those bishops converted into rigid public officials,” stated Schneider.
“Those bishops revealed themselves to be imbued with a naturalistic view, to care only for the temporal and bodily life, forgetting their primary and irreplaceable task to care for the eternal and spiritual life. They forgot the warning of Our Lord: ‘For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?’ (Mt. 16:26). Bishops who not only did not care but directly prohibited their faithful access to the sacraments, especially to the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance, behaved themselves as fake shepherds, who seek their own advantage,” he added.
Ontario has seen about 130,000 cases of coronavirus in a population of about 14 million, according to Public Health Ontario. This means that less than 1 percent of the population has been infected. Of these, there have been 3,800 deaths, which is a little under 3 percent of those infected, an amount that equals the percentage of deaths caused yearly by the flu. Of the 130,000 cases, the vast majority (110,00, or about 85 percent) have fully recovered.
Contact information for respectful communications:
Most Rev. Ronald P. Fabbro, C.S.B.
Diocese of London
1070 Waterloo Street
London, Ontario N6A 3Y2, Canada
Phone for the office of the bishop: 519-433-0658
Use online contact form here.