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March 12, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò said he disagrees with the church in Italy responding to the coronavirus by shutting down all public Masses. 

When asked by LifeSiteNews to comment on the matter of the coronavirus and the European church’s response — which has mostly been to halt public masses, ban communion on the tongue, and even close the baths at Lourdes — Archbishop Viganò responded: “I totally disagree with the measures taken by the Church in Italy.”

The Archbishop is known for having published in 2018 a report accusing Pope Francis of ignoring Pope Benedict XVI's earlier restrictions on then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick on account of McCarrick’s preying upon and abuse of seminarians. Viganò said at that time that Francis should resign. 

Viganò told LifeSiteNews that he “fully agrees” with what Italian authors Antonio Socci, Aldo Maria Valli and a blogger writing under the pseudonym of “Cesare Baronio” have “written on this subject” of the coronavirus and the Catholic faith. 

Vaticanist Antonio Socci has strongly criticized Pope Francis for peddling high-sounding slogans in his pontificate that have amounted to nothing when faced with a real crisis. 

“This pontificate started with the slogan ‘outgoing church’ and now the pope and cardinals have literally barricaded themselves in the Vatican (even the Angelus was live-streamed) because of the coronavirus. […] There are no more bridges, but walls, very high and impassable, behind which the pope, cardinals, and monsignors hide,” he wrote in a March 9 piece. 

Socci said that the virus has revealed the “great hypocrisy of the ‘progressive Church’” in that while Pope Francis said that the “shepherd must take the smell of the sheep,” he and other shepherds have holed themselves up and have decided to stay “well clear of the sheep and their breath.”

“The other slogan from Bergoglio was ‘the church is a field hospital.’ And here, as soon as the epidemic broke out, traces of this field hospital are totally lost,” he wrote. 

Socci said that the situation was “completely confusing for Catholics, who feel as if they have been abandoned by those who should be their pastors.”

Socci also said in another piece that closing down all public Masses “teaches that in misfortune it is better to leave God behind, ‘because He is of no use.’”

Italian journalist Aldo Maria Valli has been using his blog to post encouraging pieces to help Catholics deal with the crisis from especially a spiritual perspective. He’s reported on an Italian priest who, being forbidden to say Mass publicly, decided to process the streets with a statue of Mary on the back of an open-bed truck, preaching with a microphone and blessing with Holy Water. He has also republished a blog by American Mariologist Professor Mark Miravalle about how Mary can help Christians defeat the coronavirus. 

In a blog post titled “A meditation on the present calamity”, the blogger writing under the pseudonym of “Cesare Baronio” laments the decision of the Italian bishops to cancel all Masses in Italy. 

“The press release of the Italian Episcopal Conference on the occasion of the epidemic of Covid-19 (here) confirms the sad reality of a conventicle of heretics and apostates, which in the face of the plague closes churches and forbids Masses, disconcerting even the most lukewarm faithful,” the blogger asserts.

“And it does so with that cold aseptic language that betrays the belief that they are salaried officials, bureaucrats at the service of civil power.”

Archbishop Viganò recently added his name to a petition calling for the reopening of the miraculous pools at the shrine of Lourdes, France, after the pools were closed on March 1 in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

There have been countless healings associated with the waters at Lourdes which were revealed to Saint Bernadette in February of 1858 by Our Lady, with the Church officially declaring seventy as supernatural.

The petitioners say that the decision to close all the pools has disconcerted and aggrieved the Catholic faithful all over the world, and are calling upon Bishop Antoine Hérouard the Apostolic Delegate for the Sanctuary of Lourdes and Abp. Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, Rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes to reopen the pools immediately so that pilgrims may return.

“In 160 years an incalculable number of faithful, affected by the most diverse diseases, have immersed themselves in these pools without any infection having ever occurred,” the petition states. 

“When an epidemic is rampant in Europe, if there is a place that people should resort to, in order to ensure of not being infected but as to receive benefits for the soul and body, it is precisely the sanctuary of Lourdes. Whoever in Lourdes bathes in the same pool as a Coronavirus patient, would be certain to not be infected, because the pools of Lourdes are not places of sin, but places of faith, and it is faith not medicine that allows miracles.”

The message of the petition is consistent with the actions of a number of church leaders, such as US bishop Joseph Strickland who has called for Eucharistic processions to fight the coronavirus and the Polish bishops who have called for more Masses in response to the coronavirus, saying that it would be“unimaginable” to close churches.

Other Catholic dioceses, however, are instructing the faithful only to receive Communion in the hand, with others canceling all public Masses or dispensing the laity from their Sunday obligation.

Catholic historian Professor Roberto de Mattei told Church Militant that the miraculous waters at Lourdes were more likely to help, rather than harm coronavirus patients.

“If I knew a coronavirus patient, I would advise him to go to Lourdes,” Professor de Mattei said. “And if I were in Lourdes and had a coronavirus patient next to me, I would be sure I would not catch the infection. Lourdes protects more than any mask or disinfectant. Closing the healing pools of Lourdes means giving up believing in the miraculous character of Lourdes.”

Readers who wish to sign the petition can find it here: Keep Lourdes Open