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Abp. Michel Aupetit of Paris.Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images


November 23, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Some 70 demonstrations asking for the return of public Masses are scheduled for the coming weekend all over France, as COVID-19 restrictions continue despite a lack evidence that lockdowns are actually efficient in slowing the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. Increasingly, the sanitary measures inflicted on the population by President Emmanuel Macron and his government have been taking an anti-Catholic turn — but Michel Aupetit, archbishop of Paris, appears to be blind to the fact. Instead, in a recent radio interview on the Catholic diocesan-controlled radio station of Paris, Radio Notre Dame, he attacked Catholics who want to receive Holy Communion on the tongue and even priests, accusing them of “conducting their personal business” to obtain Mass to the detriment of their “brother” Catholics.

After the Council of State refused to recognize that the lockdown should not prevent the French from exerting their fundamental liberties of freedom of religion and worship, things have gotten worse on the ground with a clear prohibition of prayers and religious chants during demonstrations in favor of public Masses. Aupetit did not comment on this situation, nor on the overstepping on the part of the French authorities of their competence regarding prayer, public worship, and the way the sacraments may be administered by Catholic priests.

Archbishop Aupetit’s words to Radio Notre Dame journalist Marie-Ange de Montesquieu on November 19 shocked many listeners, also because of their flippant tone during this episode of their telephone conversation broadcast daily during the present confinement.

Noting that the “sanitary situation” is “very serious,” Aupetit told the journalist that Prime Minister Jean Castex and the interior minister, Gérald Darmanin on November 16 promised the president of the French Bishops’ Conference, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, that everything would be done so that public celebrations could resume on December 1 under a new strict sanitary “protocol.”

Aupetit continued:

I’d like to take this opportunity to say that all the people who want to do as they please under the pretext that… And they’re the ones who screwed things up for us, eh? … That is to say that the Ministry of the Interior on the day of the audience at the Council of State had brought videos that showed that in some parishes, probably including some in Paris — yes, in Paris, I know this is happening in Paris. Well, people were receiving Communion on the tongue because that’s how you have to receive Communion in the “Mass of alll time.” We see that these people don’t know history because it’s in the sixth century that we began to receive Communion on the tongue. And then they weren’t wearing masks and so on. So they told us look, you’re incapable of holding your troops. So now you need to get serious. In addition, priests who promised obedience at their ordination should also remember that. That is to say, it is not good enough to say, “I promise obedience to you and your successors” and then do whatever you want. So if you want Mass to really resume on December 1… Those who conduct their personal little business in their private corner prevent all their brothers from being able to attend Mass.

By bringing up the question of Communion in the hand or on the tongue, Aupetit went beyond the requirements of the French authorities, who, to date, have never mentioned this practice in sanitary protocols for church attendance. The archbishop’s words may give them ideas, although it is to be expected that the French bishops will come up with an obligation to distribute the Host in the hand even if the authorities do not.

The disdainful way in which the archbishop brushed aside the sincere concern of these traditional Catholics who — both in Novus Ordo and to traditional parishes — prefer to receive Our Lord in Communion in the most reverent way possible, and appeared not to share their longing for public worship, especially on Sundays, was commented on by many Catholic priests, religious, and faithful.

Many recalled the right of Catholics to receive Communion on the tongue, affirmed by Memoriale Domini (1969) and confirmed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2009 in the context of the swine flu epidemic.

The medical angle was also mentioned: there is no proof that Communion on the tongue is more prone to viral contamination. In fact, the contrary is true according to a number of studies that have shown it to be “safer” (such as this one in Austria). Aupetit, a former medical doctor, did not mention this.

The historic reference by Archbishop Aupetit was also criticized. Jean-Pierre Maugendre, speaking under “Renaissance catholique,” a traditional society and editor that organizes summer universities, pro-life activities, and book fairs, wrote an open letter noting that when Communion was given in the hand, it was following a deeply reverent rite that had nothing to do with the modern practice of receiving the Host in the left hand and then touching it with the fingers to consume it. It was abandoned because of “sacrilege and desecration by the dispersion of tiny Eucharistic particles on hands that cannot be purified as those the priest” — let alone the Hosts that were stolen for blasphemous purposes.

Accusing Aupetit — in the words of Pope Francis — of “clericalism” that “condemns, separates, frustrates and despises the people of God,” Maugendre added that Catholics consider going to church and receiving Communion as not a “business” of any kind, but a “vital necessity and even a duty.” “Frankly, you give the painful impression of being … the ‘errand boy’ of Mr. Darmanin, showing a servile obedience to political authorities that unfortunately is nothing new.”

“I confess to you, quite simply, that I do not have a near religious respect for the laws of the Republic. It is the laws of the Republic that programmed the genocide in the Vendée, confiscated Church property, expelled the religious, and which today legalize 200,000 abortions per year, medical abortion until birth, the free distribution of contraceptive pills to minors, etc., and which are still in force today. No doubt you will understand that all these facts create a certain distancing from the sacredness of republican law,” continued Maugendre, accusing Aupetit of giving the faithful, in his capacity of “doctor of souls,” “stones instead of bread.”

“La Porte Latine,” the French website of the SSPX, observed on its part that Aupetit’s attack did targeted not only local priests, but at least one “brother bishop” insofar that one of the three videos produced by the French government at the Council of State showed an ordination Mass celebrated this summer by Bishop Marc Aillet of Bayonne.

In any case, should the thousands of churches where Mass is celebrated in France be punished for what happened in three cases, especially when masks have not been proved to stop the contagion of COVID-19?

According to a reliable source, Aupetit has also banned priests from the diocese of Paris from celebrating Masses in families’ homes in a letter to all the members of his clergy.

At the same time, schools are functioning normally, people jostle each other in public transport, and supermarkets are receiving large numbers of customers. At the same time, “new cases” of the new wave of COVID-19 in France, hospitalizations, and deaths are on a downward trend and have been since before confinement at the end of October.

In related news, it has emerged that while demonstrators prayed and sang the Hail Mary during the pro-Mass demonstration in Rennes, Brittany, last Sunday, a female journalist, Sophie Dupontel, from the mainstream media Le Quotidien went to complain to the police who were present. She explained on a Twitter video that she went to ask “what was permitted or not” because the police did not intervene. “They were praying. They just prayed,” she told the officer, who answered: “Oh really? Sorry, I was on the phone.” He added: “I saw no joined hands. I can’t say.”

Prayers resumed, and this time, the officer filmed the scene. Dupontel went to see him once again. “Yes, okay. Technically, it looks like it,” he told her. “Now, is this claiming a right?” he asked, but he added that in his report that he would speak of “religious chants.”

Even the digital editor of France Inter, a State media outlet, was indignant. He tweeted: “These images by a journalist from Qofficiel reporting an offense to the police are disturbing. Is she a journalist or a police auxiliary?”

Meanwhile, French Catholics are facing great difficulties even to obtain the baptism of a newborn baby. In central France, a young family was forced to drive one hour to reach a church where the baptismal registers were available; in their own diocese, they have been “closed,” and the sacrament cannot be administered in local churches.