Time to go on the offensive
  • Let's see if we can't give public thanks to the remaining bishops who are holding the line on cancelling public Masses.

    I have no idea what the maximum number of likes is on this system.

    Do any of you know bishops who have refused to go along with the mass cancellation of public Masses? Would you give them a public thank you?

    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    I don't know of any bishops, but I suspect the cobwebs are being swept out of the catacombs.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    Here's a list from CNA:

    but it's already in need of an update: Tulsa has announced they are suspending public Masses after Thursday.

    The list as it stands shows 18 dioceses/archdioceses still offering some Masses accessible to the public, with one exception: in Fort Worth, closed Masses are followed by an outdoor distribution of Holy Communion.
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,777
    It seems to me were might do better to thank those who acted with prudent concern for the lives of others. As we've been reminded, the majority killed by the Ebola outbreak died of untreated malaria due to overwhelmed hospitals, and in Italy we already see the strain on health care has brought the fatality rate above 5%.
  • Richard,

    Prudence, surely, can't include abandoning our duty to God in the name of preserving our bodies.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    Richard, try telling that to the Pharisees. They are so bound up in their rituals they can't see the real danger to all. God doesn't promise he will protect idiots from themselves.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 693
    Cleveland Diocese doesn't have a Bishop, only an administrator.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Charles,

    Of course God won't protect idiots from themselves. I wasn't proposing that He would.
  • jpnz71
    Posts: 65
    No - God does not require us to fulfill our duty at the peril of catching and passing on a disease that has become a pandemic. Even Martin Luther understood this. Below, is an excerpt from a letter he wrote in 1527 when the black plague came to Wittenburg. How surprising it is that there are those in 2020 who don't see this with the clarity of someone living almost 500 years ago...

    "Others sin on the right hand. They are much too rash and reckless, tempting God and disregarding everything which might counteract death and the plague. They disdain the use of medicines; they do not avoid places and persons infected by the plague, but lightheartedly make sport of it and wish to prove how independent they are. They say that it is God’s punishment; if he wants to protect them he can do so without medicines or our carefulness. This is not trusting God but tempting him. God has created medicines and provided us with intelligence to guard and take good care of the body so that we can live in good health.

    If one makes no use of intelligence or medicine when he could do so without detriment to his neighbor, such a person injures his body and must beware lest he become a suicide in God’s eyes. By the same reasoning a person might forego eat- ing and drinking, clothing and shelter, and boldly proclaim his faith that if God wanted to preserve him from starvation and cold, he could do so without food and clothing. Actually that would be suicide.

    It is even more shameful for a person to pay no heed to his own body and to fail to protect it against the plague the best he is able, and then to infect and poison others who might have remained alive if he had taken care of his body as he should have. He is thus responsible before God for his neighbor’s death and is a murderer many times over. Indeed, such people behave as though a house were burning in the city and nobody were trying to put the fire out. Instead they give leeway to the flames so that the whole city is consumed, saying that if God so willed, he could save the city without water to quench the fire.

    No, my dear friends, that is no good. Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence or has recovered, and act like a man who wants to help put out the burning city. What else is the epidemic but a fire which instead of consuming wood and straw devours life and body?

    You ought to think this way: “Very well, by God’s decree the enemy has sent us poison and deadly offal. Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above.

    See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God. Moreover, he who has contracted the disease and recovered should keep away from others and not admit them into his presence unless it be necessary. Though one should aid him in his time of need, as previously pointed out, he in turn should, after his recovery, so act toward others that no one becomes unnecessarily endangered on his account and so cause another’s death. “Whoever loves danger,” says the wise man, “will perish by it”
  • JPNZ71,

    You're quoting Luther to prove something about rashness, I guess, since he it was who couldn't see the blindingly obvious truth that changing Holy Writ to serve ones own purposes didn't please God?

    Maybe your point is that even someone as prone to impulsive actions as Luther was can see the case for using "modern" medicine against the plague -- either in his day or ours?

    When this virus approaches anywhere near killing a third of the European population, I'll take that comparison seriously.

    Are there people who are at risk from this wretched nuisance? Sure. Are there people who are sick? Absolutely. Those people who are sick should be sent to the medical quarantine, not those who are healthy. Those who have weak immune systems shouldn't needlessly expose themselves to danger. Mass and the other sacraments should continue in public celebration.

    Look--- I live in the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, so I am feeling its effects most acutely. A surprisingly large number of people I know are behaving sensibly, but to judge by the shelves of every grocery store I've encountered in the last week or so, the sensible are in the minority. It looks like East Berlin, and yet no calming words are coming from our bishops, about the evils of rash judgment or the need to have confidence in the Almighty and All-merciful God who knows what we need before we ask for it; at least, I haven't heard any. I hear much about cooperating with civil authorities, which is (usually) a good thing. What about public penances in reparation for our sins? What about increasing the availability of confession? (My pastor, to his credit, has just announced how confessions will be handled during the Wretched Nuisance.)

    On the subject of putting ones self in harm's way, there's an order (or was, I guess) which existed to offer its members as replacements for prisoners held by the Moslems. St. Damien of Molokai went to a leper colony knowing that he might very well catch the disease. St. Maximillian Kolbe offered to take the place of another prisoner, knowing full well that he was going to die. At a different level, firemen and policemen run toward the problem all the time, because that's their job. Dads and moms put their lives on the line sometimes to protect their children. This behavior is meritorious, not cavalier. Priests serve as military chaplains, and embed with their troops. Some famous chaplains died on a sinking ship. Will you condemn these examples of self-donation?

    We must be called to holiness, not cowardice.

  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    CGZ writes:
    yet no calming words are coming from our bishops, about the evils of rash judgment or the need to have confidence in the Almighty and All-merciful God

    There are 145 territorial dioceses in the U.S., and they all have websites. I have looked at dozens of them this week, and can say you are mistaken. So rather than spouting lazy, uninformed disparagement of all the bishops, why not use your computer to go and look at the messages the bishops have posted? Some of them are worth listening to.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 542
    Gatherings of all types are banned because

    1) This disease is highly contagious
    2) And has a high risk of possible complications and death for vulnerable persons.
    3) Symptoms do not immediately appear, so
    4) Infected but asymptomatic persons unwittingly transmit the disease to others by going out while they feel all right, not knowing they are sick.
    5) Because of the incompetence of the Republicans who have spent the last three years defunding the CDC and otherwise ravaging the public health system, there have not been a sufficient number of tests manufactured, so we cannot know who is infected and where.
    6) Many people will keep on coming to Mass come hell or high water, as long as they hear church bells and see the lights on. Many of these faithful people are elderly and high-risk.
    7) THEREFORE: the only reasonable course of action is to cancel Masses, to prevent transmission of the disease to those who cannot survive it.

    Unless YOU’VE been tested, you do not know if you are carrying the virus right now, because symptoms do not immediately appear. It is the height of selfishness to put your elderly or immunocompromised or asthmatic or otherwise high-risk sisters and brothers at risk of death.

    Griping about cancelation of public gatherings right now is akin to griping about not being allowed to play Russian roulette on someone else.

    Why is this so hard?
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 1,063
    Yes, and it's not like we can use the Eucharist or other Sacraments like the shield Aegis against the virus. Honestly, thinking that way is juvenile and has nothing to do with our faith. It's the kind of strawman that atheists love to mock.

    If you've received a dispensation from competent authority, then you're basically asking to endanger the population so that you can participate above and beyond what the Church itself asks of you. Not being able to attend Mass beyond our obligation is an understandable frustration in my opinion, and one that I share, but not one that warrants a crusade against the USCCB.
  • Chonak,

    I shall stand corrected on that point. The statements may exist. I stand by my initial comment that I haven't heard any. I'm not going to say more on that one point.


    You're putting words in my mouth. I didn't say that we could use the Eucharist or other Sacraments against the virus. I said that in the past the Church has rushed toward the danger, and reminded us to trust in God.

    I heard on Sunday a rejoinder to the idea that we must receive Communion in the hand: he said, we don't open doors with our tongues.

    Should we avoid opening doors because they might contain viral particles? Of course not.

    I'm not on a crusade against the USCCB.

    I also didn't say that the bishops couldn't dispense some persons. (Pregnant and nursing mothers are already exempted from fasting in Lent.) Sick persons are dispensed from their obligation. It is still a very good idea for them to attend Mass.

  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    Not always. For some sick persons, the obligation to protect other people from illness is a duty that outweighs the benefit of optionally attending Mass.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    In the east, we have Reader's Services just for the times when a priest is not available for liturgy. With our smaller congregations and fewer priests it happens that no priest is available on a given Sunday. We also have the Divine Praises, or Divine Office that is always a worthy way to pray. You can't go to mass? Pray the Hours. It's a good practice to cultivate.
  • Chonak,

    For what it's worth, I began this thread genuinely hoping for a vehicle to strengthen the faithful bishops in their difficult work. I don't think it's going quite as I intended.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 977
    If you get tested and you are clear, it only means you are clear for that moment. In order for testing to work to show that people are not contagious, one would have to get tested every day. Testing is ultimately worthless in that regard, but still I have heard multiple times about people being "cleared" by testing.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Elmar
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,409
    Worthless in that regard, but useful in understanding what is going on. We also need, indeed it is essential, to discover who has recovered and has immunity. Those people, and there may soon be significant numbers of them, can be allowed to maintain the services others need (not least spiritual services).
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • One thing the bishops have done by universally (now) shutting down public Masses is to take all of the response (whether approving or angry) on themselves personally. It's out of the hands of the individual priest, and the individual layperson. One good result of that could be that we stop tearing each other apart. We have dodged a situation where holding liturgies and attending them (or not) might become a political war within the Church.

    Personally, I would like to see Catholics stop bouncing between hyperbolic extremes. We have a 2000 year intellectual and spiritual tradition. Please stop calling someone who goes out in public or wishes to worship publicly a "murderer" or accusing them of having callous disregard for human life. On the other end of the spectrum, no, we have not suspended Catholicism.

    Every single year tens of thousands die from the flu (and other communicable diseases) in our country and around the world, but we do not suspend Masses or public gatherings. There is an intellectual and moral judgment that we must continually make about our actions and their possible unintended consequences. Whether you like it or not, we are willing as a Church and society to accept a certain amount of death every single year in exchange for maintaining a life of public gathering and spaces. Deciding where to draw that line is not always obvious in the real world. Our bishops have stepped in and drawn a line, and it's over for now - so let's stop throwing around memes and incredibly over-simplified moral judgments at one another.
  • A sample comparison:

    When you give your teenager keys to a car, you are adding to the number of drivers on the road, from the riskiest demographic. You have increased the risk (from zero if they do not drive) that they will kill/maim themselves and/or others. Yet, you are willing to accept the risk that they or others might die - because of the convenience of having another driver in the family, or possibly more serious factors.

    Given the facts and statistics about driving (which are well-known and meticulously kept, in stark contrast to the statistics about a brand new virus we do not full understand), do you have a moral duty to protect your children and strangers by ferrying your high-schooler to and from school and activities every day? If your kid kills someone, are you responsible? Is your convenience more important than the lives of strangers? How high would the statistical chance of death/killing need to be before this became a moral conundrum? Is there a magic number?

    My only point here is that in real life, there are tradeoffs and unintended consequences to all our decisions. The philosopher takes all these questions seriously, and realizes that the answers are very often not obvious. The modern citizen bypasses the intellectual process, and re-posts a meme, while filled with righteous moral indignation. Stopping and thinking would be a better approach.
  • I had the same thought about bishops shouldering responsibility.

    It would be hard for parish priests to pull that trigger. Or not to pull that trigger. It's nice knowing what we are required to do, and to be able to accept that in obedience.
  • madorganist
    Posts: 906
    What is this talk of "abandoning our duty to God"? Your duty to God is to sanctify the Lord's day by rest from servile work for yourself and those under your authority (third commandment). This is divine law and cannot be dispensed by anyone. The Catholic Church normally obligates us to assist at Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation under pain of mortal sin. This is a Church precept which can be dispensed for good reason. For our pastors to ignore the recommendations of the civil authorities at this time verges on hubris, as does portraying those recommendations as some sort of persecution.
  • madorganist
    Posts: 906
    Furthermore, the dichotomization of "faithful" versus "cowardly" bishops is distasteful, dishonest, and uncharitable. Get over yourselves!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    The bishops are doing their job, looking after the welfare of their flocks.
  • jpnz71
    Posts: 65
    Comparing the current pandemic to the flu, or to driving or any other risk/reward activity, is not useful. Covid-19, is a new virus with no known treatment drug or vaccine (at the current time) that spreads exponentially, thus having the potential to completely overwhelm our already stretched thin health care system. This has already happened in Italy, and is happening now here in the U.S. There is a vaccine for the flu, and our health care system is equipped and staffed (barely) to handle flue cases. Thus, going to Mass, even though we might pass on/catch the flu, or doing other things in which we accept risk/reward does not impose on the people and systems in place to handle the fallout of our actions. Infecting others with Covid adds exponentially, not cumulatively, to the rate of infection, and combined with the infections passed on by others, will crash our health care system, resulting not only in the deaths of people with Covid, but those who will not be able to access health care for flu, car accidents, gun violence, heart attacks or anything else, due to a lack of hospital space, health care providors, ventilators and so on and so forth. This is not a normal health issue. This is the worst pandemic since the Spanish flu. The Bishops cancelling public masses are showing real courage. Those going into self quarantine are showing real courage. Those on the front lines of this pandemic, treating or testing people, are showing real courage. Everyone else going about this as if there is nothing to see here, its just like the flu, or just like driving, are not helping. I'm not sure how they think business as usual is loving our neighbor as ourselves.
  • Trying to steer this in a different kind of productive direction.....

    If you're grateful for something your bishop has done recently, list it here.

  • TCJ
    Posts: 977
    At least my bishop hasn't cancelled public confessions. A neighboring diocese kept daily Mass going (stops tomorrow).
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,777
    Our Bishop has decided to go on the defensive and limit participation in the Chrism Mass. It's easy to delude ourselves that the USA has a better health system than Italy's, but The Washington Post linked to some actual statistics.
  • TCJ,

    Do you mean Penance services, or integral auricular confessions?
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,731
    @Richard Mix

    That Italian report has plenty of red flags to show why Italy is such a disaster zone at the moment.


    To put Italy's figures in perspective, on average 600,000 Italians die each year, so c.1600 a day. When looking at the death rate for Covid, it will be more interesting to see the excess deaths, rather than the total number of people that have died after testing positive for the Covid virus.
    Thanked by 1ghmus7
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,777
    The report I linked merely shows Italy's 2017 ranking in the top of the EU public health systems, all of them well ahead of the US. The Macrotrends graph shows yearly death rates, whose steady increase I suppose to reflect general longevity and an aging population. When exactly was it updated?
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 690
    Here they've canceled the usual annual pre-Holy Week day when they try to get everyone who rarely goes to go to Confession all at once, with all the priests attending all day. It works! But this year to avoid gatherings they've asked that parishes have a priest attending all day over the next weeks, to spread out attendance. Most buildings are open air anyway, if not they can use the porch area. More Masses are schedule to allow the few people to spread out. All elderly priests are excused from duties, and the seminary closed. Young priests continue normal duties for now.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    We have the church open every day for adoration and prayer. Those attending are asked to spread out and not sit close together. The priests are there for individual confession. Given diocesan directives and the nature of transmission of the illness, that's about all we can do for now.

    I just read this morning that 40% of patients in hospitals are between the ages of 20 and 54. (CDC) Younger adults are at serious risk and this is not just a disease affecting only older people. CDC figures, again.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 977

    I mean the typical confession hours are still the same. The arrangements of how to line up, etc., have been changed to keep people at a distance, but at least they can go without having to make an individual appointment.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,409
    The Apostolic Penitentray has now authorised bishops to permit General Absolution.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • jpnz - The point of an analogy is that the two things considered are not the same. But we consider one to gain insight on the other. So far, the coronavirus is not comparable to driving or the regular flu, which kill far more people every year. But I am giving the benefit of the doubt to the experts who predict that coronavirus could get much worse, thus putting it on the same level or even higher than these two other forms of death that we deal with every year.

    However, your reply is just the kind of thing that worries me. Because the coronavirus COULD be very bad, we are therefore not allowed to consider our response to it, on a purely philosophical level, by considering our response to other deadly things that we deal with every single year. In short, we are not allowed to (supposed to?) think. That is scary.

    The decisions about Mass have been made by our legitimate spiritual authorities, and I thank them for it. The public decisions are being made by our legitimate temporal authorities, with advice from the experts. The decisions are not mine to make, but I am a rational being and still free to think rationally and calmly about the situation. This will happen again, and probably soon, and the more thinking we do the better prepared we will be.

    The fact that we have a somewhat effective (depending on the year) flu vaccine that some people elect to receive, does not in any way negate my point about continuing Masses and life as usual during flu season. In spite of the vaccine, there are tens of thousands of deaths every year from the flu, which is the point. The same will likely be true of coronavirus next year, when we have a vaccine for it. The moral/philosophical question will remain.

    There are a lot of countries in the world - Italy is only one of them. China, which is now moving past the end of the coronavirus scare, with many, many times the population of Italy, had fewer deaths than Italy. Same for Japan, with double Italy's population. It seems Italy is a statistical outlier. We might want to think about why that is.

    Roughly 50,000 people in the USA committed suicide last year. It is rational to expect a serious uptick in those numbers in the coming year, due to social isolation, depression, economic ruin, destruction of small businesses, etc. This is worth considering.

    None of us are making the decisions, but calm, rational thought and discussion may be helpful and it sure won't hurt anyone.

    CGZ - to your updated theme of the thread, I am grateful to our bishops for making this decision, even though I may not like the decision. That is part of being a leader, and hopefully it will help keep the church from tearing itself apart right now.

    Thanked by 2CHGiffen rich_enough
  • Drake
    Posts: 219
    Like JaredOstermann, I am grateful to my bishop for making a very difficult decision out of concern for the physical wellbeing of his flock--a decision I would not have wanted to make if I was in his shoes. I recognize that God gives him the grace of his state. I am also grateful that my bishop's statement was clear to begin with and that he even gave further clarification so that there was no ambiguity about what his decision was, why it was being made, and what that meant for his flock.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,155
    According to an article in today's New York time, we could see 2.2 million deaths in the U.S. because of Covid-19 (coronavirus is a general term that includes the flu, SARS, MERS, and other viruses) this year alone. This is a worst case scenario, with the best case being in the hundreds of thousands. The actions of our government are currently inadequate to achieve the best case scenario.
  • BHCordova,

    What good things are being done?
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,259
    who has recovered and has immunity...

    This doesn't mean they can't still carry the virus, though, does it?
    Just because it doesn't affect you doesn't mean you don't affect/infect others.
    It's like people who get a whooping cough vaccine, and then inadvertently transmit (shed) whooping cough to the rest of their general population, instead of staying home for a while to avoid transmission.

    I don't believe public Masses should be disallowed (and I really dislike the awkward, in-the-face-of-the-priest live-streamed Masses... why does Mass need to be "versus populum" when there aren't even any "populi" in the building? Just offer Mass ad orientem, for pete's sake, and let them learn something new out of this situation..."

    According to Church Militant's article today, the bishops haven't the authority to ban us from Mass.
    •They may offer the dispensation. We may partake of it. They may not force us to not partake of Mass.

    Our earthly lives are never to be placed above our spiritual lives.
    These decrees are making martyrs and saints look ridiculous.
    (If it were not for the internet, I don't think these bishops would be getting away with it.)

    - I'm thankful we still have confession and adoration Mon-Sat.
    - I'm thankful that canon lawyer priests know that their bishops weren't actually allowed to ban people from receiving on the tongue, and therefore didn't refuse it to those who could not bring themselves to receive Our Lord in the hand.

    May God have mercy on us all.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    This is how I'm going on the offensive. http://www.chantcafe.com/2020/03/laetare-sunday-2020/
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    Kathy... perfect.

    Reparation is now a significant focus for the faithful.
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    CCooze, you are really trying to get on the diocesan hit list, aren't you? LOL

    As I noted elsewhere, this is the first Sunday I haven't played since 2007. It really feels strange.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CHGiffen
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,259
    Charles, I didn't say anything about a specific bishop or priest. =D
    It was really odd to be singing the propers at home, rather than at Mass. =(

    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen