A WOMAN WRITES TO STILUM: WHERE IS THE CHURCH? WHERE ARE THE SHEPHERDS?
24 Marzo 2020
Dear readers of Stilum Curiae, I received a letter from a faithful woman, from Rome I believe, and I want to share it with you, because her voice is just one of many people who in this difficult moment for the Nation have discovered, with anxiety, that they have been abandoned. Abandoned both at the hands of an inadequate and incapable government, that uses authoritarianism to hide its lack of authoritativeness, as well as by the Pastors, who unfortunately are slavishly following the civil authorities without protecting either the reasons of the Faith nor the good of the flock entrusted to their care. In this letter, written by an educated and professional woman, she offers some of the hypotheses of feasible solutions that could have been adopted by the Italian Bishops’ Conference, instead of falling prostrate before the diktats of the executive, and what an executive!…Happy reading.
“Dear Dr. Tosatti, it is not the epidemic that is annihilating me, but it is the prostrate submission of church authorities in following the dictates of civil authority in an even more restrictive manner than was intended, applying the rules in an even stricter way than the king desired. Thus, the idea of a “gathering” was quickly equated with Holy Mass, thereby demeaning it of its very high and absolute significance and instead filling people with the sense that going to Mass would be dangerous and thus something to be avoided.
The ideological classification of the Mass as a “dangerous act” by churchmen, while theoretically intended for the “common good,” immediately caused a breach in the minds of the faithful, just at the moment when they needed their pastors to guide them in this moment of trial, thereby creating an even worse epidemic than the one we are living through, an epidemic that kills the spirit of man before it kills their bodies.
The Holy Mass is not more dangerous or less necessary than access to pharmacies and grocery stores, and even less is it more dangerous or less necessary than post offices and cigar shops.
Thus the hasty abolition of Mass for the faithful, as if to unconditionally affirm an absolute cooperation in avoiding any spread of infection through its celebration, is causing irreparable damage to the faith and religion. This damage is being perpetrated by Pastors who are more concerned with the health of the body than the health of the spirit.
The Pastors’ lack of faith is shown in their failure to keep firm what has always been the cornerstone of the Church, and this is destabilizing for everyone’s spirit, both believers and non-believers, in this grave moment for all humanity.
If church leaders had exercised more faith and reflection, why could they not have applied to the celebration of Holy Masses the same contingencies that are now in place allowing people to go and get medicine, food, mail, and cigarettes?
It would have been enough for the parish priests to have accepted advance requests from parishioners asking to participate in Eucharistic celebrations, dividing them up at various Masses or even spreading their attendance out over a succession of days if there were numerous requests.
But no, in this extraordinary moment, the only ones who have not exhausted their energy and strength in order to accompany the faithful have been the bishops and priests. What is stopping them from taking extraordinary measures just like health-care workers, law enforcement, and civil authorities? Are they no longer called to “invent” ways to assist the sick, the dying, those who are alone, and all of the faithful? Why has the need for the care of souls led merely to the hasty abrogation of the Eucharistic Sacrifice?
Where is the Church? Where are the Pastors? Why are dioceses not making extraordinary provisions to accompany the faithful with the Sacraments the way hospitals are making extraordinary provisions to provide care for the sick? Why are they not multiplying the number of Masses? Perhaps in the open, in the squares, letting people listen from balconies and windows? Why have they not allowed for the possibility of fulfilling the Sunday obligation on other days of the week, instead of just dispensing everybody all at once?
I am not convinced that the Bishops are bound to obey these civil orders. At the very least they are not bound to maintain such reverential submission to directives that are exclusively of a civil nature. Such directives from the State cannot impede their primary responsibility as Pastors. Nor are the faithful bound in conscience to respect this unconditional surrender to the laws of men in place of the laws of God.
It would be wonderful if there were many voices being raised with zeal, with pride in a rediscovered Christian identity, in defense of Christ the One Savior of the world.
Thank you for your voice.
Translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino @pellegrino2020
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