Bishop in Arkansas .... can someone square this circle?
  • Here's an article about a bishop who will allow choirs only when all members have been fully vaccinated, and when singing takes place behind masks, while postponing "non-essential" events such as confirmation, anointing of the sick; somehow he allows Communion on the tongue and prohibits the protection of the Sacrament from sacrilegious reception, encouraging those to receive who support the destruction of the unborn.


    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/us-bishop-choir-members-communion-ministers-must-be-fully-vaccinated


    1) Is this sort of thing happening across the church, so that singers (who may or not be heretics or apostates, but shouldn't be) are muzzled but heretic (or apostate) Catholics in public office are not?

    2) Is anyone singing w/out masks or 6-foot-radius bubbles ?

    3) Can anyone make intelligent, coherent sense out of, or propose a philosophy which makes, holding/teaching the Catholic faith consistent with the other behaviors detailed in the article?

    (Serious answers only, please, to this last question. Snark not wanted.)
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,578
    1. I believe so
    2. I believe so
    3. Leave that church (building) and find another... if possible... otherwise,

    philosophy

    "pick up your rosary (cross) and follow me."
  • Chrism
    Posts: 810
    1. Not here. Some local pastors are getting out ahead of the forced vaccination question by saying they will not force vaccination, but it's clear that there is a mighty problem of social pressure to get vaccinated coming as the number of willing vaccine recipients begins to run out well short of herd immunity numbers. Those who jumped at the vaccine and those who dogmatically isolated for a year are getting ragey at the thought that their sacrifice will be in vain as Covid will never be defeated due to those conservative Christian anti-vaxxers, etc.

    3. To play devil's advocate, imposing a draconian Covid protocol allows Scared Sally and Timorous Tim to come back to Mass without first curing their mental illness/imprudential judgment. Thus, "access" to the Sacraments is increased by removing a stumbling block from the weak. OTOH, Politician Patricia might not be in a state of mortal sin, due to invincible ignorance, and excommunicating her might put a stumbling block before the weak (rank-and-file Democrat Dan).

    (Language intentionally made spicy to address the audience for the underlying article.)
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 885
    These restrictions are the same as we have seen in Canada since day one and, considering how the vaccination campaign stateside is progressing, it seems entirely reasonable to me.

    As for permitting Communion to certain individuals in public office, insinuating that someone who makes certain policy decisions is responsible for the sins of others is both grossly simplifying political realities and leads to an extremely slippery slope. I will go no farther than that.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,279
    In the first place, bishops are not generally medical people and they are somewhat ignorant of medicine. You can't always know who is giving them advice. It also means you can't always trust their judgements. So...

    1. Seems to work like that in a number of places, but not all.

    2. Don't know since I haven't attended a mass since the end of July 2020. The local diocese may or may not be representative of what is going on elsewhere.

    3. Let me know when you understand Catholic clergy. I sure as H... don't.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Elmar
    Posts: 371
    The implicit requirement for volunteer singers to share personal medical information with the parish is certainly odd. Is this really the "freest country in the world?"
    Thanked by 2CCooze tomjaw
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,578
    Is this really the "freest country in the world?"

    No, not any more... it has been stripped from us.
    "Russia would “spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.” Our Lady of Fatima

    Our annihilation was on January 6. One day, in one hour, the scale tipped, but many years, sins, blasphemies and errors leading up to the final toll, the tipping of the balance at that moment, occurred. Repentance is always a way back, but I don't see it yet... ...and WE haven't seen anything yet... just the preludes... (nice, quiet, instrumental music that is hardly noticed before Mass) and then we shall all experience the eventum corporis prior to the final postlude.
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,172
    That is utterly ridiculous.
    Must they only be vaccinated against "covid," or also every other vaccine available, under the sun?
    How does that make any sense, at all?

    Speaking of people being required to be "vaccinated," did y'all see that that was a requirement for particular forms of rescue from the volcano on St. Vincent?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,279
    I read the St. Vincent requirements and couldn't believe what I was reading.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Chaswjd
    Posts: 145
    It’s odd that he is requiring choir members to be masked and vaccinated. I also wonder if the greater than twelve foot height distance between the choir loft and the floor of his cathedral counts as social distancing.
  • [Thread originators request: please try to stay on topic]
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 350
    https://www.arkansas-catholic.org/news/article/6909/Choirs-holy-water-and-altar-servers-will-return-April-1

    Here’s the Bishop’s letter. All seems sound and in accord with what is presently known about the virus and how it spreads.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Gamba,

    Postponing the sacraments in a general way, without a really good reason, doesn't make any sense to me.

    About half of what I've read could have been justified in March of last year, but not any longer.

    I can imagine a situation in which a bishop might say "the reception of Holy Communion by the faithful is hereby suspended".... so that certain people couldn't be discovered when they didn't go to receive. It would be a stipulation which everyone understood to be rightly decided, if lamentably necessary.

    Singing with masks on makes us breathe more of our own Carbon Dioxide, thus making us more likely to pass out. How is that good?
  • Elmar
    Posts: 371
    I think that arguing about medical details isn't to the point here (most of us aren't expert in effects of masks on breathing etc. and 'common sense' isn't helpful here).

    Rather I'd focus on the special 'catholic' topics: sacraments, mass attendence, liturgy with special focus on music being an intregral part of it. Why not eg. require priests to be vaccinated, if possible, to facilitate anointing of the sick?
    Also ethics: being vaccinated against covid-19 not only as a means of protecting yourself and 'getting your fundamental rights back' - which oddly is the main focus at this moment in public discussion at least over here - but also as an act of charity to protect others by helping to achieve group immunity.

    What I am generally missing in episcopal publications (and your example, Chris, really highlights this) is communication of the backgrounds of their decisions. I certainly believe that our shepperds are convinced that they are doing all this for the physical and spiritual well-being of their 'sheep', but trust into their wisdom could be greatly enhanced if they told why they are decreeing this or that. The bishops in our coutry at least decide unanimously, which implies that they at minimum consult each other.

    Still I'd appreciate if they disclosed on what expertise their decisions are based; that's very different from our government, which publishes next to everything on their consultation and decision making process. Even when you don't agree, you can at least understand how they got to take the wrong decision...
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 995
    I’m sorry, but there is nothing ‘ethical’ about requiring people to get vaccinated against a sickness that has a 99% survival rate for almost all age brackets with vaccines developed at least in part off of aborted fœtal cell lines. There’s also nothing ethical about depriving the faithful from the sacraments at any time, let alone when you believe they need them most due to a supposèd threat of death. It’s an odious larp of genuine ethics.
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 62
    we've collectively gone insane. God help us
    Thanked by 2tomjaw francis
  • Elmar
    Posts: 371
    I’m sorry, but there is nothing ‘ethical’ about requiring people to get vaccinated [...] with vaccines developed at least in part off of aborted fœtal cell lines.
    This may be disputed, at least pope Francis and our bishops don't agree with your statement.
    (I will not judge whether this more relevant than your assessment, however, and also will refrain from challenging your 99% argument).
    I do agree with what you say about the sacraments.

    And à propos, the ethical question about vaccines that have been developed using, or tested on, fœtal cell lines has indeed been treated quite extensively by our bishops, including references to experts of catholic ethics (as I recall).
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    Before I go on what might seem to be an incoherent rant, I'd point out that a conservative pastor, who is surely vaccinated already (or will be soon) due to his status as a member of the clergy, could phase out EMHCs this way, particularly for sick visits. I also agree that the measures seem more appropriate for March 2020 but not April 2021.

    The bishops in our coutry at least decide unanimously, which implies that they at minimum consult each other.


    Oh, how I hate this, living next door as I do. In France, notionally, some things are decided at the conference level, others diocesan, because the CEF negotiates with the interior ministry, but each diocese has had some discretion over things that fall outside of the parameters of public Masses, and some things just wind up getting ignored because nobody really knows what to do with them.

    The problem with a national approach is twofold. One, the virus is unevenly distributed both in terms of contagion and in severity. Vaccines are widely available in some cities even for people who aren't eligible, but we can't get enough doses where I live in order to force the government's embarrassingly slow campaign along. (It'll be 2022 by the time I get a shot in either France or the US at this rate.)

    Two, bishops who are not in agreement to the right for lack of a better term are going to get shut out by the progressives; coronavirus measures just happen to fit with ideological preferences of the liberals, who don't mind the enforcement needed, whereas anyone remotely concerned with prayer and sacraments is going to have problems with removing holy water, banning communion on the tongue, and so on, and they will have at least some discomfort with masks in the liturgy. They also will feel uncomfortable with policing masks, rearranging seating, etc. even in a relatively conformist and homogenous society like in Germany. Will they show this discomfort? No, probably not, but it's nevertheless there.

    France is much less conformist and homogenous, yet the bishops have at least publicly taken the lead from one or two bishops on the communion question, so it's a minor miracle that Mgr Aupetit finally said that trads can receive on the tongue. He specified the EF, but anyone reading between the lines will have noticed that the archdiocesan spokeswoman had insisted as recently as last week that bans on reception on the tongue applied to the EF, so one might wonder if Aupetit isn't going to enforce the ban, knowing as he likely does that the canonists would have a field day with it.

    I've been in churches in Paris, the Nord, and the Touraine since the pandemic began; only the trads have put out holy water at all.

    In any case, the US is much larger than France, itself about the size of Texas with the population of California and Texas combined, and even Germany, about the size of Montana with the population of California, Texas, and Florida combined. That means that it's simply impractical to have one policy; the bishops would never be able to agree on it, between fifty state regulations and their own preferences and whatnot.
    Thanked by 2Elmar tomjaw
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 885
    Two, bishops who are not in agreement to the right for lack of a better term are going to get shut out by the progressives; coronavirus measures just happen to fit with ideological preferences of the liberals, who don't mind the enforcement needed, whereas anyone remotely concerned with prayer and sacraments is going to have problems with removing holy water, banning communion on the tongue, and so on, and they will have at least some discomfort with masks in the liturgy.

    I'm sorry, but this is a blatant strawman. I don't see how political views, whether secular or liturgical, have the slightest relevance to agreement with COVID prevention measures.
    Thanked by 2Elmar CHGiffen
  • Elmar
    Posts: 371
    Thanks Matthew for details esp. concerning France, I certainly don't envy you for the situation; I'm not going to delve into your arguments (at least now, except for fully agreeing with what Schönbergian says above).

    When I spoke about unanimous decision of the bishops, I was refering to my current home, the Netherlands. That's just a handful of dioceses, heavily understaffed (our new bishop still has no auxilliary after almost a year) so the bishops' conference is effectively a small circle that can probably have a spontaneous telephone conference when need arises. One of our bishops is also a medical doctor, wonder if they can afford any other medical advisor on covid-19...

    Germany is a different story with more struggle between 'church cultures', also bishops have to deal there with different state regulations (where diocese borders need not coincide with those of the states).
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Elmar,

    I focused on musicians singing and carbon dioxide because this is the Church Music Association of America.

    Having found myself unexpectedly hyperventilating the other day, while wearing my mask in a place I was not supposed to remove it, and I wasn't singing either, I must reiterate that singing behind a mask for any length of time is hazardous to the health of the singer.

    Matthew,

    Indeed, a "conservative" pastor might do such a thing, but he would have to have more than a usual dose of fortitude. A wonderful priest in this neck of the woods, back in March of last year, insisted that he wouldn't abandon Communion on the tongue because (and I think this is a quote) "you don't open the door with your tongue". More priests are receiving the gift of fortitude, but (it appears) very few bishops are.

    Serviam,

    I completely agree that vaccines can't be an ethical imperative with that kind of survivability rate. Neither developing them, nor injecting them, it seems to me, is justified.


    Can anyone come up with a solidly Catholic understanding of the present situation which requires the abandoning of the sacraments, traditional practice and liturgical control for the sake of a nuisance disease?
  • Elmar
    Posts: 371
    I completely agree that vaccines can't be an ethical imperative with that kind of survivability rate.
    Mortality rates are low due to the lockdown under which the medical system just can cope with the need for hospital+IC-capacity, which cannot be sustained forever (in contrast, remember Northern Italy in March last year and New York - "nuisance" anybody???)
    Experts warn - and I trust that they are correct - that without vaccination and max. 20% naturally immune, next fall-winter-spring would be the same situation over again.
    Death toll among 80+ years has dropped by 95% now with nothing changed except vaccination - should we have omitted that?
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Elmar,

    Because the questions you raise, if I answer them here, will drag the thread from its purpose, I will answer you in a PM.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 885

    Having found myself unexpectedly hyperventilating the other day, while wearing my mask in a place I was not supposed to remove it, and I wasn't singing either, I must reiterate that singing behind a mask for any length of time is hazardous to the health of the singer.

    That's your personal experience. While the "I ran a marathon with a mask on, so it has no impact on respiratory function at all" crowd is obviously stupid, most people would not come close to deeming it "hazardous to [their] health".
    Thanked by 2Elmar CharlesW
  • Schoenbergian,

    It is true that the plural of anecdote is not data, and this was only my personal experience. I had been praying my Office during a Holy Hour. That's also anecdotal, not more than a data point.

    Nevertheless, when I exhale (being a member of the human species) it is Carbon Dioxide which I exhale, and (when a significant portion) gets trapped, and re-enters my lungs, this isn't good.

    I'll sing a Marian antiphon when the opportunity arises, and I might even wear a mask to do that (or, say, some part of the Mass Ordinary) but the Propers clearly require more breath and concentration, and therefore more oxygen, which this Bishop's rule precludes.

    It's an interesting point which Chaswjd raises: choir lofts should make the singing easier. If we had Catholic-sized families (some of you do) who are musically capable (again, some of you do) we could sing motets and Propers and still ignore the vaccination requirement and the mask requirement, since we're all from the same household. How many parishes have (and use) choir lofts anymore?
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,079
    I’m sorry, but there is nothing ‘ethical’ about requiring people to get vaccinated


    We could stop right there and remind all parties that the shot is NOT a "vaccine" strictly speaking, and that it is "experimental."

    Perhaps someone could point to that portion of moral law which requires me to be a guinea pig? That would be helpful.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382

    I'm sorry, but this is a blatant strawman. I don't see how political views, whether secular or liturgical, have the slightest relevance to agreement with COVID prevention measures.


    It's not a blatant strawman (and spare me; you're not sorry). They just do; American bishops, with the weird exception of Knoxville (Bishop Stika goes with the wind, unfortunately), have lined up to a man along political lines when it comes to banning communion on the tongue, and in France, the division is more or less soixante-huiitard or their successors. Now, some bishops have said one thing and quietly done another, mostly to prevent trads from getting more upset, but that would be in spite of the fact that banning communion on the tongue lines up neatly with their ideological preferences. It's also a spectrum, and more clearly so than in the US. where Archbishop Hebda isn't a trad, but he's not going to screw around either. In contrast, you have combinations such as "no holy water, no communion on the tongue," "no holy water, communion on the tongue only for trads," "no holy water, communion on the tongue for everyone who asks," "both for trads," "both for everyone" (in theory… I haven't been anywhere where normies had holy water again).

    So, yeah. What you said is pretty empty as a response. Also, at this point, we should have found a way to provide holy water, instead of replacing it with a secular ritual. But no, over a year later, we haven't, so it's like the Triduum never ends, and if that doesn't line up with the way that liberal Christians think about the devil, I'm not sure what to say.

    One of our bishops is also a medical doctor, wonder if they can afford any other medical advisor on covid-19...


    So is Mgr Aupetit, which was a problem last year, because with all due respect, he somewhat inadvertently set the tone for the libs to go hard; the CEF is 100%, to a man, stuffed with liberals whose time is up but who refuse to acknowledge it.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,079
    Mortality rates are low due to the lockdown


    Not in New York State, New Jersey, or Michigan, and as you know, the reverse is true in Florida, Texas, and S. Dakota.

    Your assertion is not provable, nor proven.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 995
    This may be disputed, at least pope Francis and our bishops don't agree with your statement.


    This same pope looked on as these same bishops literally processed a demonic idol on their shoulders up to the baldacchino in St. Peter's, so, with all due respect (and I DO pray for them), I'm going to reserve the right to take their assessment of the situation with a grain of salt, since apparently they are literally too blinded or flat out stupid to know idol worship when they see it. If something so simple and obvious can confuse them, I highly doubt their ability to make informed judgements about the finer points of epidemiology, let alone the health of my soul.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 995
    Can anyone come up with a solidly Catholic understanding of the present situation which requires the abandoning of the sacraments, traditional practice and liturgical control for the sake of a nuisance disease?


    No, which is why a year later, one has not been clearly articulated.

    There are plenty of examples in history which were much more dangerous (I'm using this term broadly to also include political situations) than this so-called "pandemic", and yet the faithful were never deprived of the sacraments. Attending a mass could mean being drawn and quartered in Elizabethan England. Did all the priests stay home? Nope. The faithful created priest holes and the priests traveled around ministering to the true faithful until they were either caught or died naturally. It should also be noted that, the faithful were willing to risk death to receive the sacraments... Masses and sacraments were also widely available during the bubonic plague. Talk about a real pandemic.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,578
    The demon idol worship thingy truly does make many of us question just about anything that comes from the Vatican.
  • Elmar
    Posts: 371
    Mortality rates are low due to the lockdown
    Your assertion is not provable, nor proven.
    Of course it isn't - like they say here in the Netherlands: you'll never know for sure if the sand bags were really needed to prevent the dyke from breaking; you'll have to trust the 'dijkgraaf'.
    For a protestant society, they've a surprising bishop-like authority without the vestments, though.
    The demon idol worship thingy truly does make many of us question just about anything that comes from the Vatican
    So do we, but for different reasons.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    yet the faithful were never deprived of the sacraments.


    Indeed, but even if it weren't true, and the people were deprived of last rites and confession indefinitely, shouldn't we be embarrassed that we have to do this in 2020 and now 2021 given that we actually know a thing or two about diseases and their transmission?
  • Matthew,

    You bring us full circle: can you propose an explanation consistent with Catholic teaching which explains the bishop’s approach? (“He’s a follower of Judas” isn’t the kind of explanation I’m hoping to read.)
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,578
    Hmmm... Judas bishops... I must admit I have never thought about that before. Does that mean one out of every 12? Unfortunately I think it’s one out of every 12 that is NOT a Judas bishop.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    Well, not entirely in accord with Catholic teaching, but I don't have much time for "Judas bishops" rhetoric either. That is, most bishops, and many American bishops, do not understand the common good (they need to reread St Thomas and Charles de Koninck on the primacy of the common good). They are unwittingly or otherwise thoroughly liberal at the core, and they haven't expressed clearly enough that the church alone regulates divine worship, as it also happens that not only do some of the changes fit in with what libs want (or wouldn't fight over, as it happens), they neatly correspond to government preferences. The government makes right, and that applies to the church equally (except when right-liberals see half of the problem, but anyway…) 

    Now, of course, the government is the proper authority over disease, but it could not impose such onto the church when it comes to divine worship; we are now at the point where people lambast the church on the one hand and on the other ask "What's the big deal?" when we ask for more, even while complying with restrictions already in place.

    I also suppose that a bishop could and perhaps should be particularly cautious, even more than the state, but this is likely to create resentment; whether or not that's a valid concern is above my pay grade.

    The sacraments are also a right, properly understood. Rights arise from obligations, and fundamentally that is the worship of God in the manner revealed, which would be the sacraments of the church and her other rites. Given the teaching on this, I sincerely do not know why he explicitly recommended giving anointing of the sick to the merely infirm, when infection with coronavirus for many would be a perfectly licit and indeed just thing to do, this even (especially) if they have received the sacrament for a different illness, as the sacrament can only be given once unless a new danger arises. That is, I see why he tried to minimize contact with coronavirus patients in March 2020, but on the other hand, this effectively made no sense, as you still had to bring Viaticum and give the apostolic blessing; you might as well anoint them again, as the danger is now different and in fact is graver!

    Suggestions are usually taken as orders, and his suggestion was sufficiently confusing that "do not anoint in the usual cases, only anoint in the edge cases of the old and infirm" is not an unfair.

    It is also problematic to indefinitely suspend proper celebration of the liturgy; perhaps this is another argument for bringing back secular canons, who, although not absolutely one household (I've always imagined them living in spacious apartments on a terraced courtyard) would count for the purposes of the pandemic.

    The bishops can dispense the obligation, and sometimes this is wise and prudent; however, I've come to believe that once this was done, it wasn't coming back, not without serious effort. Hartford's dispensation was ending, supposedly, at Pentecost a few months ago when I last looked. The Ordinariate was the last American diocese to lift it, IIRC, and it was one of the first to bring it back. Perhaps this was wise in the end; Liguori is already generous on excusing one from the obligation. Let the state make that kick in for those of us who are not ill or at risk in any way, given that the powers of this earth would be judged for such on the last day. In fact, that's what seems to have happened in France; the state forced the bishops to lock the doors, but once priests felt comfortable, they opened up again, and then the government had to open things up again after the Conseil d'État said so.

    Rereading the original letter just confirms all of this. "Flattening the curve" has dragged out into over a year with various restrictions.

    On the other hand, I would have done the opposite of what most have done and imposed only confessions with the screen, which is a right — I forget whether of priest or penitent — and is why confessions should ordinarily be heard in church; not having face-to-face confessions is less problematic. In fact, the bishop of Little Rock did this, but obviously for sanitary reasons, as it doesn't obviously square with any other decision or his ideology.

    Anyway, this was a long response (as ever…?) but I sincerely don't know how to make heads or tails of all of this other than that pastors should jump on eliminating EMHCs. Choir restrictions are just a way to get people back into low Mass culture or farther into it than they were already; it is, I think, a risk that one has to take, even if one has to limit oneself to quartets and or even one cantor. That's better than nothing; my impression is that some bishops assume that choir members are all high-priority for the vaccines, which is not the case at all.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,578
    wow, Matthew... that is some deep parsing, I will grant you, more than I would have thought through... I just give them over to Our Lady and St. Michael and ask them to deal with them as they will with a simple prayer of the rosary... (It's not worth bending your mind, or suffering any anxiety or even depression over the errors of bishops per say). But Kudos, as you have thought through many of the "options" or possibilities?
    my impression is that some bishops assume that choir members are all high-priority for the vaccines, which is not the case at all.
    I think more accurately the term is high-risk (not high-priority) and CYBA.. if you know what I mean.
    That is, most bishops, and many American bishops, do not understand the common good (they need to reread St Thomas and Charles de Koninck on the primacy of the common good). They are unwittingly or otherwise thoroughly liberal at the core, and they haven't expressed clearly enough that the church alone regulates divine worship
    you can say THAT again... and again, and again...
    Thanked by 2MatthewRoth Elmar
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 995
    pastors should jump on eliminating EMHCs.

    Amen.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 988
    I'm not so sure about eliminating EMHCs entirely. My dad was the first Eucharistic Minister for the Diocese of Beaumont. In a large parish without deacons, they serve a useful role at Mass. They also serve a very useful role in visiting the home-bound, those in the hospital, etc. I think that some (maybe even most) priests abuse the use of EMHCs.

    Thanked by 3tomjaw CHGiffen Elmar
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 995
    They also serve a very useful role in visiting the home-bound, those in the hospital, etc.


    IMHO, there's a big difference between visiting the homebound (assuming the priest cannot visit everyone from his parish) and giving communion at Mass. A few, select, particularly holy souls to visit the sick is one thing.

    I have been a Catholic my entire life and I have yet to see a single instance where EHMCs were truly necessary. I'm perhaps in the minority, but I'd much rather have a 25 minute long communion than have people who are not consecrated man-handling our Lord.

    Do EHMC's ever purify their hands before giving communion? Almost never. They similarly do not do so afterwards. Are there patens to prevent our Lord from falling? Again, almost never. Do the people who come up to serve as EHMCs religiously go to confession right before Mass? Again, almost never except for a few select souls.

    We do things with our hands that, at least in theory, a priest would never do / has never done. Think, for instance (and I wish to be delicate here) of the various actions that can be a part of a licit marital act. Those hands (my own included) have NO BUSINESS touching our Lord. It's really that simple.

    There's a good reason even deacons weren't supposed to touch the sacred vessels in the old rite.

    The old trope that communion at the rail / on the tongue takes too long has been debunked numerous times. The fact of the matter is there is rarely—if ever—a valid reason for EHMCs at most masses, and in the few cases where people argue they are necessary (weird churches in the round that take 12 ministers, for instance) could be remedied by reinstalling a rail and having the priest simply go right down the line, with people replacing other communicants as soon as they have already received.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,279
    In our former pastor's later days, he could only say mass sitting on a stool behind the altar. His mobility was seriously impaired. He had to have ministers distributing communion. They were usually deacons, but not always. Sometimes, they really are needed.
  • CGZ - Catholics have a duty to defend and protect innocent human life.
    - Gatherings in a time of COVID increase risk to innocent human life
    - Therefore, there should not be gatherings during a time of COVID

    How's that? As I see it, that is the rationale. And for some it's good enough. The problems are myriad, philosophically speaking, because it is overly simplistic, but the first two points are hard to argue with, and the third seems to follow logically.

    My question, from the beginning, has been how you could ever have Mass again, according to this rationale. Even if COVID disappeared tomorrow, the flu alone kills tens of thousands in the USA per year, and clearly gatherings with singing increase the chance of flu spread. So that implies to me there must be some "magic number" of deaths that trigger sacramental, liturgical shutdown. And who could determine that, and how? Clearly, tens of thousands of deaths are just fine (or at least, we've been happy to continue Mass while ignoring them in the past), but the COVID threat is not. What's the magic number, I wonder?

    This is not meant to be flippant. I really do not see how, philosophically speaking, we can ever have Mass or a Mass obligation again, by the logic I've outlined above. I suspect that Catholics will simply ignore this moral question, and sort of drift and clunk and lumber "back to normal" with the wider society. I have been waiting, and still am, to see any kind of in-depth, well-balanced tackling of this question from a Catholic perspective. Which is sad, coming from an institution with a 2000-year intellectual tradition. Instead, we have individual bishops making wildly different choices and claiming that those choices are the right thing to do. And what does that do to the moral credibility of the Church?

    Here in South Dakota, we have had Mass with congregational singing since May, and choirs since September. We also have the Sunday obligation re-instated. According to the Little Rock bishop, that is morally unjustifiable, and I suppose our bishop would be in some sense apostate. What is anyone to make of it all? Does the moral law change at the whim of individual bishops? We can sweep this conflict under the polite rug of "prudential judgment" but that ignores the fact that conflicting moral claims are being made. If you claim that "x" is the "morally correct and necessary action" then it also follows that not doing "x" or doing the opposite of "x" would be immoral.

    Who knows? I guess we just put our heads down in our individual situations and do the ora et labora thing to the best of our abilities.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 995
    In our former pastor's later days, he could only say mass sitting on a stool behind the altar. His mobility was seriously impaired. He had to have ministers distributing communion. They were usually deacons, but not always. Sometimes, they really are needed.


    Here we have a classic, genuine, "extraordinary" circumstance. I can see it in this case. And it's also interesting that you note the preference to have deacons do it (which is a good call). Obviously, if a priest cannot stand, there's an argument to be made. But that is not the standard at the average parish in any country. "Extraordinary" has simply been relegated to "ordinary" (which, funnily enough, is a technical term in the church).
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,172
    Indeed, for many of us recall the priests at some churches going to sit after the consecration, and just letting EMHCs do all of the distribution, which was definitely an abuse.
    Even having only deacons distribute Communion, if a priest is capable, is still an abuse.
    Adding a deacon is fine, if one's time-concern is true. At our EF Masses, however, if anyone comes to help distribute Communion, it is another of our priests, and no other form of minister.

    I, for one, am so happy to not see EMHCs anymore, and I do hope they don't return to a function at Mass.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382

    IMHO, there's a big difference between visiting the homebound (assuming the priest cannot visit everyone from his parish) and giving communion at Mass. A few, select, particularly holy souls to visit the sick is one thing.


    The problem is that only priests can anoint, confess, and, for about 90% of things, bless, and they were the only ordinary minister of the sacrament of the eucharist until 1983; it's a little odd that deacons are despite being unable to confect it. That said, and numbers aside, your average diocesan priest either has never known older priests that did sick calls themselves other than to anoint and all too often race the clock for last rites, or they have absorbed the myth that they cannot do all the visits.

    That may be true, but we also need to think long and hard about frequent communion. Without wanting to shut the elderly and the sick — rather the opposite — there is no need to commune every week. You have a Mass obligation that is excused, not a communion obligation, and this is only going to get worse as the generation for whom this concept was introduced continues to age. Worse, the part of the generation that grew up with this confusion and then spread it themselves as younger adults is now reaching the point where they are getting sick and more severely so.

    This also goes for places where the priest has severe mobility issues; communion is required at Eastertide (incidentally the particular law of the US, unless something abrogated it includes at least Lent if not the 'gesima period). It is good to receive frequently when well-prepared (not an impossibility!), but people tend to commune far more than they confess, which should probably be twelve, if not twenty-four to thirty or indeed fifty-two times a year. (I do not confess like I'd like, but I like going weekly myself; it helps keep me accountable with the little things.) Obviously one should go when one must regardless of a schedule. I'd particularly encourage making good confessions for holy days and other feasts, as well as Sundays; the following is a list of the holy days prior to 1911, at least notionally. Various indults and concordats had drastically reduced the number.

    1. Nativity of our Lord
    2. Circumcision of our Lord
    3. Epiphany of the Lord
    4. Monday within the Octave of the Resurrection
    5. Tuesday within the Octave of the Resurrection
    6. Ascension
    7. Monday within the Octave of Pentecost
    8. Tuesday within the Octave of Pentecost
    9. Most Holy Trinity (always a Sunday)
    10. Corpus Christi
    11. Invention of the Holy Cross
    12. Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    13. Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    14. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    15. Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    16. Dedication of St. Michael
    17. Nativity of St. John Baptist
    18. Ss. Peter and Paul
    19. St. Andrew
    20. St. James
    21. St. John (the December feastday)
    22. St. Thomas
    23. Ss. Philip and James
    24. St. Bartholomew
    25. St. Matthew
    26. Ss. Simon and Jude
    27. St. Matthias
    28. St. Stephen (the December feastday)
    29. The Holy Innocents
    30. St. Lawrence
    31. St. Sylvester
    32. St. Joseph
    33. St. Anne
    34. All Saints Day
    35. The Principle Patrons of One’s Country, City, etc.
    36. Immaculate Conception (listed here because it was not on the list in 1642.)

    Holy Week and the rest of the Easter octave were already eliminated in the early modern period. Corpus Christi, St Joseph, St Anne, the patron, and Holy Cross are later additions, particularly St Joseph, though this isn't the whole story; they eventually came up with a division between Mass obligations and refraining from servile labor to reduce the number, and in any case, feasts not on here, like Exaltation of the Holy Cross in September were also quite important. So was the anniversary of the consecration of the church, which had an octave. Trinity is also a bit strange, because it's on a Sunday, always included obviously in Gregory's list.

    This gets you to ninety-six days where one could commune, as Good Friday traditionally doesn't have a general communion.

    Keep in mind too that all of Lent was a fast (Sundays excluded) but that abstinence held, even on holy days. Only Christmas released from abstinence on Fridays, except for professed religious, at least in Gregory IX's Decretals, and until the eighteenth century, the vigils of Christmas, apostles and other saints (Assumption, All Saints, Immaculate Conception…) were also such; even after the obligations were gradually lifted, many continued as if they still were fast days, and on top of this, you also have the Ember Days. We'd be in a much healthier place if we restored just abstinence for these days, never mind fasting.

    But it is not required to have EMHCs or even deacons distribute at every Mass. I do not object to distributing at every Mass, but while one may present themselves for the sacraments at appropriate times and places, not using an EMHC because of mobility issues is a reason to not distribute at every Mass.

    I agree with Jared's assessment, and I'd add that while we have historically just accepted the flu, some are starting to question that; I think that ultimately this is a non-starter, because if masks alone sufficed, things would have "returned to normal" a long time ago. Yes, I realize that a novel coronavirus is not the flu, but the government never got into gear over swine flu like it probably should have, and in any case, the logic holds such that if we treat flu more like corona, we're going to be in for some tough winters. On the other hand, people have always complained in winter about hospital burdens; the disconnect seems to emerge from this. It's the Boy who Cried Wolf, in other words; every time before wound up being okay, but this time was finally different.
  • Drake
    Posts: 160
    - Catholics have a duty to defend and protect innocent human life.
    - Gatherings in a time of COVID increase risk to innocent human life
    - Therefore, there should not be gatherings during a time of COVID


    I think Jared and I may be saying similar things, but the issue I have with the above is that it does not take proportionality into account. Were the logic above absolute, we could not do perfectly moral things such as drive cars or play sports--at any time, COVID or otherwise. It is evident that driving is risky, yet most of us are not within walking distance of Mass (fulfilling our obligations to God), work (fulfilling the obligations of our state in life), the grocery store (fulfilling our obligations to provide ourselves with the necessities of life) and so on. Does that mean the preservation of life and health trumps all these other things?

    Perhaps the logical fallacy in the above syllogism is that it is incomplete. Catholics have a duty to defend and protect innocent human life -- but from what and by what means? From aggressors, certainly, for that is a matter of justice (at least if we have the means). From natural death, using ordinary means (food, shelter, water, etc.), yes. But do we have a duty to protect innocent life from natural death through extraordinary means? I do not believe so, especially when, in protecting natural life, we endanger supernatural life by cutting off access to the sacraments.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,079
    But do we have a duty to protect innocent life from natural death through extraordinary means? I do not believe so


    There is also the question of "How much increased risk to life?" Survival rate is 99.8% and is settling at almost the same % as that of the ordinary flu (IFR), as predicted by Ioannidis of Stanford. The logic flowing from that statistic would dictate that we take the same precautions as we do for Flu-A.

    The people who SHOULD be taking precautions are those in the higher-risk categories: the overweight, the 70+ crowd, those with high blood pressure, serious heart conditions, and perhaps diabetes.

    So another logical way to look at it is this: THEY have the obligation to remain isolated or to wear double-masks, keep "social distance", etc. The other 90%? Not so much.
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores CCooze
  • pfreese
    Posts: 139
    Comparing mortality rates of flu vs Covid isn’t particularly helpful since the latter spreads far easier than the former and also has a much longer incubation period between infection and the onset of symptoms. According to CDC there were 22,000 deaths in the US attributed to the flu in 2019, whereas there were over 500,000 in the deaths due to COVID in the first 12 months of the pandemic. The common flu was never bad enough in the recent past where hospitals ran out of room in South Texas and North Dakota and patients literally died in hallways waiting for care, or where city parks in New York City were requisitioned as temporary burial grounds with morgues not being able to keep up with over 1000 excess deaths per day during the first wave.

    Another point that should not be forgotten, social distancing and especially mask wearing is more to stop you from spreading covid to those around you than vice versa. If you’re a person in an at risk group simply going to the grocery store, wearing a mask will only protect you a limited amount if everyone else isn’t and cramming around you and spitting Covid germs all over you.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,381
    Ioannidis of Stanford
    has a nice mediaeval ring to it; he seems to be best known for a paper titled Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. In April 2020 he predicted 10,000 Covid deaths in the US, using data from Santa Clara and the assumption that the overall infection rate was one or two orders of magnitude higher than the official count. His math is discussed here; 0.2% seems consistent with estimates of 10% US infection rate and the half a million deaths observed. This puts Covid only slightly behind heart disease and cancer, compared to 22,000 flu deaths in pre- social distanced 2019.
  • davido
    Posts: 517
    The real problem is that all the statistics and data we have on COVID are politically driven. The death rates published by governments are heavily padded - the man who died in a motorcycle accident in Florida who was listed as a covid death, or in my state of PA, the COVID deaths the state listed in counties where the county coroners said no one had died. So can we really believe the death counts?

    Then there is the infection rate, determined from the largest testing effort ever known to man. A testing effort which registers so many false positives and has such a low threshold for positivity that even the WHO finally said the test were not being read correctly. So can we really believe the infection rate?

    Then all this data is filtered through the lens of big media, whose purpose is to generate advertising revenue by sensationalizing information. And Catholics from bishops on down are ready to stop practicing their faith over this.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 885
    Keep in mind we're seeing these infection and death rates during the largest stay-at-home campaign in history and with all preventative measures deployed, vs. no change from business as usual during the regular flu season. They aren't directly comparable.