Spanish cardinal orders more Masses, faith in God, amid COVID restrictions
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VALENCIA, Spain, February 2, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The archbishop of Valencia, Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, has urged the faithful in his diocese to deepen their faith in God during the COVID-19 “pandemic,” asking his priests to say as many Masses as possible, so that people might be able to continue to receive the sacraments.
Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, who previously served as Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for six years, issued his exhortation in a letter addressed to the archdiocese last week.
Cañizares, raised to the cardinalate by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2006, wrote that it was time “to return to God, to trust Him, and not be afraid, and to see the glory of God which is that man lives.” He employed the well known phrase of Pope John Paul II, “Do not be afraid,” reminding his faithful that God cannot abandon the Church.
“Let us remember that ‘everything passes’, also the pandemic, the failures, the disabilities, the contradictions that we suffer, everything can be overcome, everything can be overcome; because ‘God does not change’.”
The cardinal, moved to Valencia in 2014 by Pope Francis, reiterated that “whoever has God lacks nothing,” and that it is most important during time of “turmoil” to place faith in God.
“He who has God He has everything, and he does not lack anything necessary to face difficulties, he has everything, everything, that is the faith that perseveres and hopes because in God is everything, all love, all happiness, which is stronger than death.”
However, Cañizares went further than this, urging Catholics to have a renewed devotion to the sacraments, in order to “live that faith, increase that faith.” As a means of facilitating this, ensuring that people could attend the sacraments while still complying the various rules regarding physical distancing, the cardinal addressed his clergy, granting permission to say Mass “as many times as it is necessary or opportune to do so,” and even requesting them to do so.
“With this I want to say, especially to you, dear brothers, priests, that for this to be so - and not only on TV or the internet, or other media of the new networks - that we celebrate the Eucharist in person, the sacrament of our faith, and that you have not only permission, but also the request that as many times as it is necessary or opportune to do so, you do so, guided by prudence, although few faithful participate numerically, and even if you are alone or almost alone, always keeping the measures of prudence and responsibility.”
He pointed to the primacy of physical reception of the sacraments, even making reference to the early martyrs, saying that “faith cannot be maintained without the Eucharist. Christians today, like Christians and martyrs of the first centuries, cannot live without the Eucharist.”
“I also ask you to have the churches open all day, with the Lord, the Blessed Sacrament, exposed so that the faithful can be with the Lord, praying and worshiping him and yourselves too,” Cañizares said. “Do not doubt it: faithful people need the Eucharist, as God himself shows us in so many testimonies throughout history in difficult moments and in trials, as is the case today.”
In May of last year, Cañizares faced some public backlash, after blessing the city of Valencia with an image of Our Lady from church doors. The customary ceremonies held in honor of Our Lady of the Forsaken were unable to occur due to COVID regulations, but Cañizares brought the image of Mary to the door of the church, allowing people to gather and venerate the image.
Earlier last year, Cañizares had warned about the effects of secularizing forces in Spain, writing that “Marxist-communism, which seemed to have been banished after the fall of the Berlin Wall, is reborn and is certain to rule Spain.” The letter, originally sent to the socialist president of the parliament of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, was subsequently made public on the archdiocesan website, and the cardinal decried efforts which were seeking to “make Spain cease being Spain.”
The focus being placed by Cañizares upon in-person attendance at the sacraments, as opposed to televised events, is welcome news to Catholics, eager to fulfil their obligations of Sunday Mass. It comes in direct contrast to some Catholic churches in England, who have voluntarily closed in the current national lockdown, despite the government not ordering them to do so. LifeSiteNews is aware of this phenomena in at least two dioceses in the country.
However, in an open letter published in May 2020, Catholic clergy led by former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and Cardinals Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, Joseph Zen, and Janis Pujats reminded politicians around the world that “the state has no right to interfere, for any reason whatsoever, in the sovereignty of the church.”
“This autonomy and freedom are an innate right that Our Lord Jesus Christ has given her for the pursuit of her proper ends. For this reason, as pastors we firmly assert the right to decide autonomously on the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments, just as we claim absolute autonomy in matters falling within our immediate jurisdiction, such as liturgical norms and ways of administering Communion and the Sacraments,” the signatories stated.
Archbishop Vigano also mentioned that “obedience ceases to be a virtue and, in fact, becomes servility if it is an end in itself and if it contradicts the purpose to which it is ordained, namely Faith and Morals.”