Written by Kathy Thompson
“They say to her: Woman, why weepest thou? She saith to them: Because they have taken away my Lord; and I know not where they have laid him.” [John 20:13]
Catholics in many parts of the world are coming to grips with a life devoid of Holy Mass. Instead of Easter joy, we look forward to a deep sorrow which will be experienced by those who are in enforced or voluntary isolation. While most can see the need for some degree of social distancing – did that term exist before a fortnight ago? – many feel abandoned by their shepherds, who have allowed the Lord to be ‘taken away’ without a murmur.
Where are the shepherds who lay down their lives for their flocks?
Retired Archbishop Jan Lenga was ordained in secret during a Communist regime in Lithuania. He knows well how to keep the Faith in times of chaos and asks,
“Where are the bishops? Where are the cardinals? Where are the Church hierarchy, usually so self-confident and important? No, they are all hidden away, having left the people alone.
You can’t reach them in their offices or on the phone. They are staying put, so as not to have to do anything. When they call for the people to pray the Rosary, they only very gently suggest that prayer is an option. Why don’t they come out and show people how to pray?”
We read daily reports of medical staff who are risking their lives to treat patients with Covid-19 complications. Some are even sleeping in their cars; others are being accommodated by generous hotel-owners in order to avoid contaminating their families.
But are our bishops going without meals and sleep or risking their lives in any way for the faithful? Do they not know that we are told to “ … fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell”?
For care of souls is their raison d’etre – without a flock to care for, there would be no need for shepherds.
If Edmund Campion had thought like our current bishops, then the Catholic Faith may well have died out completely in England. Instead, he and others like him, sailed to the Continent to enter seminaries, travelling back to England as priests, knowing that it meant certain death to be caught by the Protestant authorities.
By contrast, today in some parts of the world, members of the flock are dying in despair, alone and without the sacraments. Do our shepherds care? Do they even believe any more? Some have even issued statements to reassure the faithful that their physical safety is their top priority. But traditional moral theologians are quite clear about a priest’s duty during a plague. A century ago, Fr. Dominic Prümmer wrote:-
“A priest ought to administer the necessary Sacraments in places where infectious disease has spread, even at the risk of his life. For a man is able to be saved through the act of contrition, but not all who are sick are able to summon up within themselves the perfect act of contrition. Indeed, at death one’s necessity is extreme, and he who has lived in the habit of sin and wild living will not be able to summon the act of contrition.”
If agnostic commentators like Mark Latham can see that Churches should stay open for the “solace and inspiration” they can provide, then why are our bishops so hesitant? The TFP’s John Horvat says that many bishops have gone further than the state requires, pointing to the Church’s voluntary prohibition on holy water in Her fonts. He writes:
“Not even miracles are allowed. Church officials unilaterally closed the miraculous healing baths at Lourdes, in France! Those miraculous waters have probably cured every disease known to humanity. Is this coronavirus any more lethal?
Such is the state of our Faith in crisis.”
Those prelates – and the ordinary faithful – who have so readily capitulated to the state need read only a few lines further in Matthew’s Gospel to find these sobering words:
“Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven. But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven.”
Any bishop and any priest who has not vocally opposed the closing of our Churches has denied the Lord before men. Any bishop who fails to issue reminders on the Four Last Things is potentially sentencing his people – not to death – but to eternal damnation. He is sending a message to the world that the Catholic Church is merely a human institution – one that shuts its doors long before beauticians and abortion mills.
An overblown threat?
Unlike some of my colleagues, I find it hard to completely dismiss the physical threat presented by this virus. I’ve been following its progress closely since January, reading a plethora of articles both confirming and denying the health risks posed by Covid-19. I do not believe it is ‘only a flu’ and that a pandemic has been completely fabricated by governments, the medical establishment and the media. Dissenters are now claiming that respected Catholics like EWTN’s Dan Burke and the Pachamama-dunker Alexander Tschugguel are lying about contracting Covid-19 and that they are part of some widespread conspiracy by orthodox Catholics to usher in the New World Order.
Laugh all you want about this virus being ‘made in China’, but the Chinese are quite good at replication. It may well have been the Chinese Communist Party’s plan to inflict this disease on the rest of the world to confirm its dominance and it may just have escaped before its official release date. But there have been too many reports from Wuhan telling of mass burnings of bodies, starving orphans and of course, the persecution of doctors who originally broke the news to believe that this is all some sort of giant disinformation campaign.
But as Steve Mosher points out, early estimates of a +1% death rate may have been inaccurate. This is due to the fact that most of the early testing is only performed on very sick patients; the thousands or even millions who contract the virus but don’t become seriously ill escape detection. This phenomenon is common during the early stages of a pandemic. Mr Mosher also explains the high death-rate in Italy as being something of an anomaly, due to the combination of an elderly population and the high numbers of Chinese working there.
Economic and social pan-demonium
Unfortunately, whether by design or incompetence, these skewed figures have led to the most absolute forced shutdown of human activity in history. The economic impact of this ‘lockdown’ simply cannot be underestimated. FLI’s Paul Hanrahan, a former Financial Advisor for 27 years and David Bruggeman, Chairman of the Board of Directors and an Accountant, employer and also small business owner – concur that the economic fallout from the government’s response will be far more devastating than the virus itself.
American Leo Hohmann suggests that this exercise has shown tyrannical governments the world over how easily a frightened populace surrenders its freedoms. John Horvat points out the dangers of a panicked populace by contrasting a strategic retreat with a flight based on fear:
“Combat veteran officers know the abysmal difference between a retreat and its frequent intelligent and disciplined rearguard actions, and a rout. The first makes the best of a bad situation. It tries to save the army, to fight another day, and with better odds. The latter brings the collapse of the fighting force and its slaughter.”
God is love and justice!
There is also disturbing disinformation of another sort coming out of the Church.
The likes of alphabet-souper James Martin tell us that a pandemic could never be inflicted upon mankind by a loving God. But, as St Jerome said, ‘ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of God’ and Scripture makes very clear that God can and does allow devastating scourges and pestilences to visit the earth in order to purify His sinful children. The book of Joshua tells of a plague visited upon the Israelites as a consequence of their worship of the pagan god, the Ba’al of Peor, Beelphegor. The episode is also recorded in Psalm 106:28-29. This idol was a fertility god, whom the Moabites honoured with sacrifices and rituals. In other words, Beelphagor was to the Moabites what Pachamama is to the Amazon!
It may come as no surprise that there is some evidence to indicate that the first case of coronavirus occurred much closer to the Amazon Synod than first reported.
Similarly, St Charles Borromeo had no doubt that the plague which swept through Milan in his day was a consequence of sin. St Charles ignored any risk to himself and tended the sick personally, performing penance on behalf of the people and walking barefoot through the streets.
Plagues and idol-worship
Pope Francis may not have been barefoot as he strolled through the streets of Rome from the Santa Maria Maggiore to the church of San Marcello, but he did state, that this was a pilgrimage undertaken to gain the favour of Our Lady in ending the corona-crisis. His actions were enough to remind Bishop Schneider of the Third Secret of Fatima, in which “the Pope passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow.”
For his part, unfortunately, Pope Francis has told us that the pandemic is not sent by God or man, but is vengeance from ‘nature,’ whom he describes as having a tantrum. “Fires, earthquakes… that is, nature is having a fit so we will take care of nature.”
One wonders how different the trajectory of this affliction could have been, had Pope Francis, like Jonah, taken full credit for calling down God’s vengeance upon the earth. Catholics should not have witnessed the spectacle of their earthly head worshipping an idol, rebuking traditionalists and rewarding corrupt, immoral prelates without expecting some grave consequences for the Church.
The wages of sin
But responsibility for this pandemic can’t be laid solely at the feet of the Pope. We have long known that the cup of God’s justice is full to overflowing – long before Francis entered the scene. Should we be shocked that God would allow a scourge which halts drag-queen story-time and the indoctrination of children by Safe-Schools prophets in their tracks? Is it any wonder that the day would arrive when the religious rites of Sunday football were cancelled?
How much does God abhor Catholic politicians presiding over the wholesale slaughter of our most vulnerable? How much disgust must He have for those priests who are neither celibate nor faithful? For His bishops who are worldly and spineless? For His people who pander to secular philosophies, live secular lifestyles, and who are indistinguishable from non-believers?
Pope Francis is wrong to say that this scourge is a call from nature.
This pandemic is a call from the thousands of children who have been raped by priests, and from the women and children who are trafficked to provide pornography which is consumed by practising Christians. It is a cry from the Billions of babies who were sacrificed out of fear and selfishness. It is a cry from the faithful couples who long for support in raising their families in a truly Catholic culture but are instead rebuked and ridiculed by their shepherds.
If the Church will not repent and offer penance, then God must act to enforce that penance.
Good Friday services may be suspended, but so is the sacrilegious alternative from the AFL. Holy Mass may not be available to the public, but there are now far fewer sacrilegious communions taking place on the earth. Inappropriate weddings and funerals have been replaced by spare and simple services, with frivolity now absent.
They have taken away my Lord
We are perhaps more fortunate than Mary Magdalene, for despite our inability to attend Mass, we know where the body of Our Lord is. He remains in our tabernacles, confected daily by our faithful priests. Our Lord remains there in the Tabernacles of the Churches around the world, “The Prisoner of Love” as Saint Gerard Majella would say. This viral scourge is for our sanctification, in reparation for our many sins and a penance for our failure to protect the Church.
Every Catholic who lives in a parish where the Churches are closed is now suffering in a new way: those who previously availed themselves devoutly of the Sacraments are now grieving because the Body of the Lord has been hidden, albeit temporarily. But perhaps those who are suffering the most do not even know it: that is all those in the world, Catholic and non-Catholic, who think it of no import that public Masses have been suspended. Shamefully, our bishops – almost to a man – are among these most unfortunate people.