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US cardinal dismisses prayer power during pandemic: We can’t just pray and think things will change

'[R]eligion is not magic where we just say prayers and think things are going to change,' Cardinal Blase Cupich said.
Thu Apr 16, 2020 - 3:59 pm EST
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Cardinal Blase Cupich

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CHICAGO, Illinois, April 16, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – U.S. Cardinal Blase Cupich has seemingly dismissed the power of prayer to combat the coronavirus, stating that “religion is not magic where we just say prayers and think things are going to change.”

The Archbishop of Chicago then went on to contrast faith with reason. “God gave us a brain and the gift of intelligence and we have to use it in this moment,” Cupich said in an April 9 interview with WBBM radio.

In a separate April 8 interview with ABC7, a local TV station, Cupich also said that “God doesn’t allow us to have a religion into a magic formula where we say a prayer and think things are going to go away. We have to take responsibility for our actions and we have to make sure we keep each other safe.”

Cupich said he considers it best “to stay in our home and allow this plague to pass us by.”

During the Sermon on the Mount, as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew, Christ spoke differently about the power of prayer.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened,” Christ said.

“Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Cupich’s words are not far from those of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who this week said that a drop in coronavirus cases had nothing to do with prayer or faith. 

“The number is down because we brought the number down,” he told the press on Monday. “God did not do that. Faith did not do that. Destiny did not do that. A lot of pain and suffering did that…That’s how it works. It’s math.”

Last month, President Trump held a “National Day of Prayer” to ask God for “protection and strength” during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is my great honor to declare Sunday, March 15th as a National Day of Prayer. We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these,” the president tweeted. “No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith. Together, we will easily PREVAIL,” he declared in a March 16 proclamation. 

While Cardinal Cupich’s above comments seem to dismiss the power of prayer, it is relevant to note that he has previously engaged in rituals that look like prayer but appear to be superstition. 

In January, Cupich performed a Chinese ritual of pagan origin prior to a Mass held at a Catholic school to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Moments prior to the opening of the Jan. 7 Mass at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Illinois, Cardinal Cupich, standing at the back opposite the altar, witnessed a “lion dance” accompanied by loud drum beats. The “lion,” which consisted of two people dressed in a Chinese-decorated costume, made its way to the Cardinal where he made the following invocation: 

Good fortune upon your head, miraculous light glittering to your eyes, your ears capturing sounds from all directions. May the most favorable auspicious big fortune and great profit be to you throughout the whole year, from the beginning all the way to the end.

The Cardinal touched the animal’s head, eyes, and ears as he made mention of these parts in his invocation. At the end of the invocation, the Cardinal slid his hand from the head of the creature ending at the rump. 

In traditional Chinese culture, the “lion dance,” often called the “Lion-awakening ritual” or “eye dotting ceremony,” is performed to exorcise evil spirits and to attract good fortune as well as good luck.

Not once during Cupich’s invocation over the lion was the name of God, Jesus, or anything sacred named. 

In response to the pandemic, Cardinal Cupich has told his priests that all baptisms “must be postponed.” Even “emergency” baptisms in the archdiocese would require the “permission” of the bishop.

Parts of Cupich’s order were posted on Twitter, including a paragraph stating, “All weddings and baptisms must be postponed and can be rescheduled only when the order is lifted. There is no exception to this, regardless of the size of the group. However, in case of an extreme emergency for baptism, please seek the permission of your bishop.”

Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, responded by explaining that “in principle, as we are all taught in Catechism, anyone having the use of reason can baptise.”

“You can’t baptise yourself, but if you’ve not been baptised you can get your atheist cell mate to baptise you before you are thrown to the lions or whatever, if he follows the correct procedure,” Shaw pointed out.

On April 7, the Archdiocese of Chicago once again reminded “all pastors and administrators of parishes and agencies that there are to be no public liturgical or sacramental celebrations (including drive-through or parking-lot gatherings for Communion, confession or blessings) until further notice.”

Catholics from across the Archdiocese of Chicago gathered in prayer outside Holy Name Cathedral on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, trying to raise awareness about how churches are “essential” during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lisa Bergman, who organized the protest, told LifeSiteNews that it’s not reasonable or honest to say that shopping centers, liquor stores, coffee shops, and other businesses should be open while “we can’t allow a lesser number of people inside a church.”

“Throughout history, when plague and destruction have struck, Christians have been the ones to run toward it, to fulfill the call of the Gospel, to care for the sick … but now we are being told that the Church is not essential,” she explained.

Cupich, who was made a cardinal by Pope Francis, is considered one of the most so-called progressive bishops in the United States.

LifeSite’s Pete Baklinski contributed to this report.


  blase cupich, catholic, coronavirus, lunar new year, prayer

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