I am not alone in my confusion during this COVID-19 pandemic. As inconvenient as the civil response to this has been, I am frustrated much more by the response by the Catholic clergy. It would appear they took a hit in the credibility department.
Following the “Summer of Shame” with the McCarrick fallout, the bishops already didn’t have a whole lot stored up in the credibility department, as it was.
What follows will be a stream of consciousness about the responses from the bishops across the US as to this Coronavirus hysteria.
1. With very few exceptions, the vast majority of the US bishops have denied the lay faithful their “right” to assist (a.k.a. to attend) the Mass (Canon 213).
2. What’s even worse, many bishops are denying the other sacraments to their flock, as well. Canon law says the faithful have a “right” to those, as well (Canon 213).
3. The bishops say this is out of abundant caution to prevent, or at least to slow down, the spread of this contagious pathogen.
4. Yet, it does not appear they would be able to cite for you the canons allowing them to deny you all the sacraments. In other words, the bishops do not have the authority to deny the lay faithful the Mass, much less all the sacraments!
5. This article, “Do Bishops Have the Authority to Cancel Masses Completely?” on canonawmadeeasy.com lays out just how incredibly bold—in the bad way—this move was. The article concludes with a resounding “NO” for an answer. It is an excellent article.
6. While it is great to care about the physical safety of those entrusted to their care, the heads of dioceses ought to be more concerned with the spiritual well-being of their flock. Why not dispense anyone who is susceptible to contracting the disease (the elderly and those with health problems with their immune system) from the obligation to attend, while still making it available to those who are not susceptible? You could even dispense everyone of the requirement, but still make Masses available for the time being.
7. Instead of ensuring their lay faithful can still receive the sacraments during these trying times, the bishops have forbidden such piety.
8. You want to pray in the presence of our Lord, present in the Tabernacle? Too bad, so sad.
9. You want to be nourished spiritually? Stay home, after all, Church is “non-essential,” they are saying.
10. What would the US Conference of Catholic Bishops had said two months ago? Imagine if you polled them and asked them if they would voluntarily cancel all the Masses in their diocese, for any reason? What response would you have received? And yet, here we are. I guess we are to make a couple conclusions:
11. First, it appears our pastors have bought into the lie of the Leftists that our rights come from the state, not from God.
12. And second, it appears these same pastors are agents of the state—willing to do the state’s bidding.
13. Otherwise, why are they obeying unjust orders of the state to cancel Church services? Why are they fulfilling their duty to administer the sacraments, only when the state deems it permissible? What would Catholic martyr and loyal priests Blessed Miguel Pro, or St. Pedro de Jesus Maldonado say to such cowardice?
14. Civil authorities are now making Church attendance an illegal offense! An arrest has already been made.
15. Our God-given right to worship God, to practice our religion is now an illegal offense? Where is the outcry from the bishops?
16. But hey, what can the bishops say? They already did the heavy lifting for the anti-religious, secular government. The bishops have mandated their own Catholic faithful to just sit home.
17. You can still visit the donut shops, the liquor stores, and the like. But you cannot go to Mass… because the bishops forbid you to do so.
18. It takes three weeks to form a habit. And now folks will be habituated to not going to Church each Sunday.
19. And after all this Coronavirus craziness blows over and dies down, from their ever-dwindling supply from the credibility department, what will be the pitch from our Catholic clergy to convince people to come back to attending Mass?
20. We already had too few Catholics fulfilling their Sunday obligation, due to the disastrous catechesis for the last two generations of Catholics.
21. Do you think those who rarely ever attended are going to be rushing back, once all these “stay at home” orders expire?
22. Do you expect the lay faithful to listen to the pastors of their souls as to the importance of attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist, when their bishops just deemed such activities as “non-essential?”
You are welcome to leave a comment.