When a bishop discourages baptism….
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April 26, 2021 (CatholicCulture) – “Baptisms should be discouraged … ” says Bishop Ronald Fabbro of London, Ontario. He’s responding to the latest draconian lockdown orders, of course; he doesn’t intend that baptisms should be permanently discouraged.
At least I don’t think he intends to discourage baptisms for any considerable length of time. But tell me: What other result could this order possibly produce? If you think that it’s acceptable to discourage baptisms for now, how can you expect a sense of urgency when, eventually, politicians give the all-clear signal, and you decide to encourage baptisms again?
Or let me ask the question a different way. If a bishop of the Catholic Church begins the sentence that way — “Baptisms should be discouraged … ” — what would be an appropriate way to end the sentence?
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” says the Lord. In my translation, that verse does not end with an escape clause: “ … unless it’s inconvenient this week.”
So whose advice should you follow? Whose orders should you obey? Jesus Christ, or Premier Ford? Jesus Christ, or Bishop Fabbro?
“Confessions should be discouraged … ” as well, Bishop Fabbro adds. So there’s another sacrament put on hold. And Mass should not be celebrated for a congregation, although the Eucharistic liturgy may be livestreamed (with a lector and an “instrumentalist” and a cantor, but nobody in the pews).
I don’t want to exaggerate. The bishop does allow for the possibility of a sacramental confession “if the pastor determines a serious need.” Now tell me, how does the pastor determine whether a “serious need” for confession exists, unless he interviews the penitent beforehand for a sneak preview of his sins?
Parish offices are closed in the London diocese, effective today, by the bishop’s order. But wait: “Halls may be opened only for essential social and mental health services (e.g., addiction services, blood-donor clinics, child care.)” Ah, so those services are essential, but the sacraments of the Church are not?
“Restrictions imposed by the government are to be followed,” Bishop Fabbro intones. If that principle had guided the Catholic Church since Pentecost … there wouldn’t be a Catholic Church.
These instructions from Bishop Fabbro contrast quite starkly with a line from my forthcoming book, Contagious Faith: “When should the Catholic Church bow to orders from the state? I offer a simple answer to that question: Never.”
Reprinted with permission from CatholicCulture.org