US archbishop who championed religious freedom shuts down diocese as govt threatens jail
BALTIMORE, Maryland, March 31, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – By order of Archbishop William Lori, priests of the Archdiocese of Baltimore are forbidden from administering sacraments to the faithful unless “the individual is in danger of dying.” Funeral Masses have also been suspended. All churches of the archdiocese are now locked.
“The instruction comes just days before the Catholic Church celebrates the holiest days in the Church year, Holy Week and Easter, marking the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” the archdiocese’s announcement states, without a hint of irony.
“Every parish is now a virtual church and will continue to use technology and other resources to stay connected to parishioners and to enrich their faith lives as we approach Holy Week and Easter,” the archdiocese wrote in a Facebook post.
Archbishop Lori is the former chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.
“Like Governor Hogan, I want to take every precaution and every step necessary to ensure the health of the people we serve,” said Lori. “While no bishop wants to ever close a church to one seeking closeness to God, I pray that in doing so we prevent further suffering, further death and will be closer to the day when we can reopen our church doors to the people we so deeply love and miss.”
Yesterday, Maryland’s Gov. Hogan ordered his constituents be confined to their homes except for limited reasons, such as purchasing food, and told them not to leave the state. Violating the order, which the government says is to stop the spread of the coronavirus, is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
In a 2016 talk in Arlington, Virginia, Lori lamented that the loss of religious freedom is leading to a “bloodless” persecution in the United States.
The archbishop warned that “bloodless” and “polite” persecution manifests itself in public schools, courts, laws, and “policies that seek to manage and put limits on religion.”
“Massive peer pressure via the social media that affects the thinking and decisions of young people [and] the more localized disapproval of our sophisticated friends,” also contribute to this persecution, according to Lori
Speaking about the Little Sisters of the Poor and other Catholic groups that were facing government persecution, Lori said, “The institutions that are under challenge are places of mercy that seek to bring the healing balm of truth, love, and human skill to the spiritual, emotional, and physical wounds of human existence, to be indeed the ‘field hospital’ amid a culture where many are wounded daily.”