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(LifeSiteNews) — I’m a cradle Catholic, Hispanic man, husband, father, and retired U.S. Air Force officer who grew up in Puerto Rico during the 1980s and graduated high school from a Catholic school. I recently attended a local parish meeting to provide input to the Synod but didn’t know much about it and wasn’t fully prepared for the discussion.

There were around twenty people in attendance and a general agreement with the comments provided. After the meeting and much reflection in the importance of this upcoming historic event, I wanted to provide a summary of my thoughts in a more clear and succinct way since I believe there are other laypeople thinking the same way as I do. My views and experiences are not based on a particular diocese, but rather observations taken over time by attending Mass in different places around the world due to my travels during my twenty-four years of military service. Hope and pray this encourage other laypeople to participate and help their local parishes in this endeavor as well.

I’m deeply ashamed to admit this now, but while a student in college, I stopped going to Mass for a long period of time since I didn’t feel obligated, didn’t know the rich history or sacred traditions of the Church, couldn’t explain or defend our Faith, and didn’t know about the real presence of our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. People tended not to genuflect while walking in front of the tabernacle where our Blessed Lord is present, and I don’t remember a palpable reverence for, or pious worship of, God in the Eucharist. The Eucharist was treated as an object or symbol, and if you dropped it on the floor while trying to grab it with your unconsecrated hands, it wasn’t seen as a disgrace.[1] I viewed the Mass as a family custom, onus, chore, opportunity for socializing with friends and family, and vestige of my Hispanic heritage and culture.

Nevertheless, around the time I was 47 years old, I started to hear the stories of conversion into Catholicism by Protestants, atheists, and believers of other religions. Their love for our Church’s rich history, sacred traditions, liturgy, splendor, beauty – and zeal in their apologetic work – was contagious and a force multiplier in my heart. However, the most compelling testimonies that brought me back to the fullness of the Faith were the ones related to the way they finally found the Real Presence of the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and their devotion to the liturgical worship in the Traditional Latin Mass. I wasn’t even aware that the Church had this reverent and traditional form of worship until around 2018!

As I have come to experience a deeper Faith, I have also noticed a modern emphasis on being “nice” from the pulpit combined with neglect in re-affirming with conviction the uncompromising and objective Truth in the Gospels and Church teaching.[2] This situation is very confusing to me, and it is not normal or historically accurate.

Broadly speaking, our beloved bishops, priests and deacons, both here and abroad, either are not very effective speaking about our Blessed Lord’s bravery, strength, and masculinity, or they fear reprimand and reprisal when teaching the Truth in the same manner as Him.[3] I expect and demand the same level of integrity, excellence, and sacrifice from our beloved bishops, priests and deacons in the defense of the Gospels and Church teaching, as was expected and demanded of me in the defense of our country.

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PETITION to Pope Francis: Reinstate Puerto Rico Bishop, Daniel Fernández Torres
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By all accounts, Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres' diocese of Arecibo in Puerto Rico is flourishing because of his adherence to the perennial teachings of the Church.

But, without any formal proceedings, Bishop Fernández Torres has been summarily 'relieved' of his episcopal duties allegedly because he championed conscience rights in the face of a Church vaccine mandate in Puerto Rico.

Please SIGN this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres now.

To be clear, COVID-19 is a serious disease, oftentimes with debilitating consequences, or worse, for those who contract it.

However, all coronavirus vaccines currently authorized for use in the U.S. and Puerto Rico have been tested on or produced with cell lines of aborted babies. And, the vaccines have been linked to serious side effects, while none has yet completed long-term testing.

Given the complexity of this issue, the Church has determined that getting vaccinated is a matter of personal discernment which each individual must make after informing his or her conscience.

As such, the Church teaches that there is no moral obligation to be vaccinated. Indeed, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Church's teaching authority where faith and moral are concerned, issued a statement to that effect in December, 2020.

Specifically, the CDF's, “Note on the Morality of Using Some Anti-COVID-19 Vaccines,” of December 17, 2020, n. 5 states: “At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”

Therefore, it would appear that for simply restating the current teaching of the CDF and for opposing his brother bishops in Puerto Rico on this seminal matter of conscientious objection, Rome is now attempting to "cancel" Bishop Fernández Torres.

This is wrong, unfair and discriminatory!

And, Bishop Fernández Torres is hardly the first bishop to defend Church teaching on conscientious objection on the issue of mandatory vaccination. Both the Colorado and South Dakota bishops' conferences released similar statements, and like Bishop Fernández Torres, they also offered to validate religious exemptions for member of their flock who asked to be exempted from vaccination.

Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres.

For his part, Bishop Fernández Torres, 57, a staunch defender of life and family, protested his removal as "totally unjust" in a statement released Wednesday (3/9/2022).

The bishop, who led his diocese for nearly 12 years, noted that Pope Francis’ apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico verbally requested that he resign, but said that he refused to do so, as he "did not want to become an accomplice of a totally unjust action."

"No process has been made against me," Bishop Fernández Torres wrote, "nor have I been formally accused of anything, and simply one day the apostolic delegate verbally communicated to me that Rome was asking me to resign."

“A successor of the apostles is now being replaced without even undertaking what would be a due canonical process to remove a parish priest,” the bishop added.

“I was informed that I had committed no crime but that I supposedly ‘had not been obedient to the pope nor had I been in sufficient communion with my brother bishops of Puerto Rico,’” he said. “It was suggested to me that if I resigned from the diocese I would remain at the service of the Church in case at some time I was needed in some other position; an offer that in fact proves my innocence.”

Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres. Thank you!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

'Pope Francis abruptly removes faithful bishop who opposed COVID vaccine mandates' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-abruptly-removes-faithful-bishop-who-opposed-covid-vaccine-mandates/

'Puerto Rico bishop supports conscience objections to COVID vaccines, allows priests to sign exemptions' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/puerto-rico-bishop-supports-conscience-objections-to-covid-vaccines-allows-priests-to-sign-exemptions/

**Photo Credit: Diocese of Arecibo

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I need them to rebuke intrinsic evils and fight the relentless and insidious attempts of “software updates” on our moral compass by the popular culture, technology, media, and global special interest groups.

I need them to be present for duty, strong, vocal, fearless, faithful, disciplined, truthful, clear, consistent, and unified when addressing topics such as same sex attraction, sodomy, gender dysphoria, abortion, corruption, New Age lies, or prosperity Gospel, ecumenism that diminishes the Truth of our Faith, pornography, and other issues plaguing society.

I also hope and pray that they don’t waiver or falter when speaking about love, penance, forgiveness, mercy, the sanctity of human life from conception, the importance of the nuclear family, the sanctity of marriage, the value of hard work, the need for equality of opportunity and not equality of outcome, freedom, justice, virtues, and lastly the very clear and present danger of Satan in the world today.

Additionally, we need to keep leaders in positions of authority inside the Church and outside in the world accountable with real consequences if they betray our trust, stray from Church teaching (e.g., publicly advocating or defending abortion), betray the Gospels and/or forsake morality (e.g., the publicly known and well documented sex abuses and scandals).

I know that everyone is broken and all of us are sinners. While our Blessed Lord walked and preached with the twelve Apostles nearly 2,000 years ago, Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve and became a traitor.[4] Now that the Church established by our Blessed Lord has more than 1.2 billion people worldwide, it is perhaps inevitable that there are more and more “wolves in sheep clothing” who place a modern or “progressive” gloss on the Gospels and Church teachings.[5] This is a fact that need to be acknowledged, so clergy can be united, “on alert”, police each other, and elude the deceptions of the “enemy of human nature,” as St. Ignatius of Loyola called the devil.[6] We need them to remain our consecrated shepherds so we can continue to be fed from their humble hands and recalibrate our moral compass in accordance with the pillar and bulwark of the Truth.[7]

Bottom Line: I fervently pray all of our beloved Church leaders exercise their teaching authority correctly and don’t be “nice” (a concept not found anywhere in the Bible) any longer, but rather be strong and of good courage (found eleven times in the Bible) for the Truth.[8] They are the shepherds of sacred traditions and the only ones that can provide us with all that we need to continue the fight against principalities and powers.[9] They don’t have to hide the Truth but embrace and imitate Him by speaking boldly and keeping people accountable for their mistakes.

In return, I pledge to continue to love, support and pray for all of them as faithful followers of our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Lastly, I hope this is received with the same love and charity that I used to write it. If anyone has a question, please feel free to reach me. I’m not afraid of feedback, nor do I take take things personally since I have a personal relationship with Jesus. God bless!

 

[1] See 1 Corinthians 11:2332, RSV translation.

[2] See John 14:6, RSV translation.

[3] See John 6:2270, RSV translation.

[4] See Luke 6:16, RSV translation.

[5] See Mathew 16:1719, RSV translation.

[6] See Proverbs 27:17, RSV translation.

[7] See 1 Timothy 3:15, RSV translation.

[8] See Deuteronomy 31:6, 31:7, 31:23, Joshua 1:6, 1:9, 1:18, 10:25, 1 Chronicles 22:13, 28:20, 2 Chronicles 32:7 and Daniel 10:19, RSV translation.

[9] See Ephesians 6:12, RSV translation.

 

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