1. Good Friday prayer offers U.S. Catholics ‘moment of unity’ amid pandemic.

By Catholic News Service, April 10, 2020

When Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, leads invited U.S. Catholics in prayer on Good Friday, it will be “a special moment of unity” at a time when the nation’s churches are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An April 2 USCCB news release announcing the national prayer said: “Praying together as a nation, the archbishop asks that we seek healing for all who are unwell, wisdom for those whose work is halting the spread of coronavirus, and strength for all God’s children.”

Additionally, with special permission received from the Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See, a plenary indulgence is available for those who join Archbishop Gomez in praying the Litany of the Sacred Heart on Good Friday.


2. No excuse to ban abortion: Some state officials are abusing emergency powers and endangering women’s health.

By The Washington Post, April 10, 2020, Pg. A24, Editorial

THERE IS nothing new about people in public office wanting to take advantage of a crisis to advance a particular political agenda, and there is not necessarily anything wrong with that. But it is reprehensible for antiabortion politicians to seize on the novel coronavirus pandemic to achieve their goal of banning abortions. In exploiting this major public health crisis, they are creating a new crisis that endangers the health and safety of thousands of women.

Officials in several states — including Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio and Alabama — have moved to impose restrictions that virtually ban all abortions on the grounds that abortion is a nonessential medical procedure that should be delayed while resources are focused on treating covid-19 patients.


3. Pope hails priests, health workers as ‘the saints next door’

By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, April 9, 2020, 2:26 PM

Pope Francis on Holy Thursday hailed priests and medical staff who tend to the needs of COVID-19 patients as “the saints next door.”

The pope began his off-the-cuff homily by honoring the memory of priests who gave their lives in service to others, singling out those who died after tending to sick people in Italy’s hospitals. Italy has the world’s highest death toll from the coronavirus pandemic.


4. Judge blocks ban on some Texas abortions during outbreak.

By Associated Press, April 9, 2020, 8:30 PM

A federal judge has ordered that Texas abortion clinics may continue to perform abortions in some cases, either those using medication or those involving patients for whom delays would pose an essential ban.

The ruling came in a 16-page opinion filed Thursday by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of Austin and appears to fly in the face of an appeals court ruling that upheld a ban imposed by Gov. Greg Abbott last month.

5. Malta court authorizes seizure of €29 million in Vatican bank assets.

By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency, April 9, 2020, 1:00 PM

A Maltese court has authorized the seizure of assets belonging to the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), commonly called “the Vatican Bank.” The garnishment order was issued last month, allowing three companies involved in a lawsuit against the bank to seize €29.5 million in assets.

Two Malta-based investment companies, Futura Funds Sicav and Futura Investment Management, along with Luxembourg-based Courgar Real Estate, have been embroiled in a years-long court battle with the IOR over millions of euros which the Vatican bank agreed to invest with the firms, before withdrawing from the deal.


6. Epidemic Danger And Catholic Sacraments.

By Thomas Joseph White, First Things, April 9, 2020

As the Church enters a Triduum where a great majority of the faithful lack public access to the sacraments, I’d like to offer some reflections that stand in sharp contrast to those currently being promoted by the editor of First Things, my friend Rusty Reno, regarding the current pandemic, civic responsibility, and access to the sacraments. In fact, I take his views to be rather misguided, though well-intentioned, and am grateful for his magnanimity in inviting me to offer an alternative position. I realize the issues are fraught, and anyone’s view is necessarily subject to a fair amount of fallible prudential judgment. I hope, however, to at least ground my arguments in both Catholic principles and a realistic assessment of our current situation, so as to develop what I think are measured and appropriate positions.

The Catholic perspective on the common good and solidarity can and should naturally align with the act of public reason requiring temporary quarantine, not protest it in the name of a misbegotten exaggerated libertarianism. It is true that Christians can and should maintain measured reserve regarding political regimes and the state, especially when they illegitimately ignore the moral obligations of natural law or encroach upon arenas of religious freedom. But Christians should also be on guard against exaggerated individualism, magical thinking that ignores scientific evidence, and religiously rationalized narcissism. Protesting quarantine because it disrupts one’s lifestyle choices can be a sign of displaced individualism, denial of reality, and bourgeois entitlement. Furthermore, it is obvious at this time that the national community must agree on measures of public health as a precursor to resolving larger political and religious disagreements. Here Christians should exhibit a sense of solidarity in pursuing the common good, and foster a sense of greater empathy for those who are especially vulnerable: the elderly, those with pre-existing medical conditions, people with disabilities, and the poor who frequently have a lower quality of health, to say nothing of the young and ordinarily healthy people who are also dying from this disease. To cause division on the fundamental good of protecting human life during a pandemic by way of moderate quarantine measures seems to belie these efforts.

The first thing to be said about the suspension of public masses is that it is not innovative nor is there any evidence that it stems from undue influence of a secular mentality. In fact, there is clear evidence that in medieval and modern Europe, as well as in the U.S., this form of response on the part of the Church is a very traditional and time-tested one. St. Charles Borromeo has been mentioned much in these discussions. He closed the churches of Milan due to a plague in 1576–77. During this time, he arranged for masses to be celebrated outside and at street intersections so that people could watch from their windows.

Secondly, it is in fact seriously unethical to attribute to the leaders of the Catholic Church the principal intention of selfishly trying to protect themselves from getting sick. (The technical word here is “calumny.”) Bishops and priests do have the right to try to avoid getting sick, as a matter of fact, and it is a natural right that cannot be denied to them even if one disagrees with their prudential decisions.

In this context the instinctual move of some conservative Christian commentators to practice social criticism while fomenting division among priests, bishops, and laity is spiritually corrosive. (What does it do to a priest’s soul, by the way, when we incite him to break the vow he made to God to obey his bishop?) Nor is it helpful to utter the tone-deaf claim that the COVID-19 pandemic is not so bad and that people are overreacting. People are not overreacting when they grieve as their patients, friends, or family members die by the thousands. In fact, the Christian message in this context is one of basic evangelical hope. What we are to learn first in this crisis is that there is life after death, that God loves those who die, that there is the possibility of the forgiveness of sins, that our littleness in the face of death is also an opportunity for surrender, that Christ too died alone from asphyxiation and that he was raised from the dead, that God can comfort the fearful, and that there is a promise of eternal life. In the face of death, Christians should be precisely those who put first things first.

Second, Christians ought to treat this pandemic as an opportunity to learn more about God. What does it mean that God has permitted (or willed) temporary conditions in which our elite lifestyle of international travel is grounded, our consumption is cut to a minimum, our days are occupied with basic responsibilities toward our families and immediate communities, our resources and economic hopes are reduced, and we are made more dependent upon one another?

Finally, what can Christians do to console both their religious and secular neighbors? What about the people heroically risking their own lives to serve others at this time, or those who are ill and afraid, especially those who do not have a religious recourse or perspective? What about those grieving, or those who are isolated? How can we be creative in our hope and empathy? Bishops, priests, and laity alike should work together in the coming months to discern how we can safely return progressively to the public celebration of sacraments, and have interim steps of public worship in limited ways. But we should also be thinking about how to communicate Christian hope and basic human friendship and compassion to people who suffer, in our words and gestures, both individually and collectively. The life of the heart is as real as the life of the mind, and in our current moment, for however long it should last, charity is itself the most basic prophetic activity. “By this they will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). I’m citing him because in this and in every other case, his authority comes first.

Thomas Joseph White, O.P., is director of the Thomistic Institute in Rome.


TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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