TCA Podcast – “Conversations with Consequences”

Episode 52 –  The Coronavirus And Divine Mercy: How To Stop Worrying And Pray!

On this week’s Conversations with Consequences, Dr. Grazie Christie and Andrea Picciotti-Bayer speak with Catholic author and evangelist Melissa Overmyer about ways to stop worrying and start praying amid this coronavirus pandemic and we discuss Divine Mercy Sunday with the author of the 33 Days Spirituality series with Father Michael Gaitley, Director of Evangelization for the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception and Director of Formation for the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy.

1. Needed: A Little Give and a Lot of Integrity, In this pandemic, some local officials have been too officious, and federal ones too deceptive.

By Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, April 16, 2020, 7:32 PM, Opinion

Here are two small things that might help us get to a good decision and through the next few weeks.

One is integrity, the other is a sense of give.

Proportion, everyone. Respect people. Have a sense of give.

Since we’re on religious observance, governors are crowing that the Catholic bishops are fully supportive of all restrictions, they’re on the team. Yes, but they’re human too. After a quarter-century of searing church scandal, they’re aware they don’t have the standing to push back if they wanted to. And they’re enjoying the approval they’re getting for once from the press.

They were and are right to cooperate with pandemic strictures. The church is a citizen, too. But they need to show a little give. Their anxieties about the church’s standing have left them slow to think creatively about how to get the sacraments to the people in ways that are in line with public policy. Young priests who’ve inaugurated socially distanced parking-lot confession have offered a way, but more is surely possible. It might be inspiring to see normally nervous bishops begin this conversation with governmental authorities.

Eminences, cooperation is beautiful but don’t forget who you are. Don’t align too utterly with the state. Keep a safe social distance. You’re not in the same business.

Here’s the part about integrity. Our federal government has to stop making empty and misleading claims about testing.

Testing is a national responsibility because a pandemic is a national problem. From the beginning it needed to be priority No. 1. It was never priority No. 1. If it had been, we’d have tests.

The federal government’s lack of integrity has been destructive. No opening of America will be sustained until it’s got right.

2. Washington Should Fund Ministers’ Salaries: Excluding houses of worship from Covid bailouts would be discriminatory.

By Michael A. Helfand, The Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2020, Pg. A13, Opinion

The presumption that houses of worship require special treatment also defines the debate over including them in the federal government’s Payroll Protection Program. The $349 billion allocated to the PPP allows small businesses to borrow up to 2.5 times their monthly payroll. The loan is forgivable if the business or nonprofit maintains its payroll. The same goes for religious institutions, whose inclusion in the program angered those who saw it as a violation of the separation of church and state.

It might seem strange that government funding can go to supporting the salaries of ministers, for instance. Critics say such a subsidy of core religious activity ought to be off-limits under the First Amendment. They argue that houses of worship carry out a special religious mission and therefore must receive special treatment. In this case, that means exclusion from an otherwise universal program.

Ultimately the special role that houses of worship play in American society during this time of crisis demands that they be treated like any other institution. This may mean closing them down when public-health concerns require it. It also means providing them with the funding they desperately need to continue their vital work as beacons of meaning and hope in times of great darkness. God knows, we need them.

Mr. Helfand is a professor of law at Pepperdine University, a visiting professor at Yale Law School, and a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute.

3. Beyond social fallout, Vatican faces spiritual and pastoral recovery too.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, April 17, 2020, Opinion

Trying to get ahead of the flattening curve of the coronavirus pandemic, the Vatican announced Wednesday five working groups intended to face both immediate needs and the challenges of reconstruction once the crisis begins to ebb.

Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said Wednesday the pope had asked him in March to set up a commission to coordinate the Church’s response, which will be organized into five groups:

Charity: A group to “listen to and support local churches” in cooperation with Caritas Internationalis, the global federation of Catholic charities, as well as the office of the Papal Almoner, the Vatican Pharmacy, and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, in identifying concrete needs.

Research: A group devoted to study of the pandemic and to reflecting on society and the aftermath in coordination with the Pontifical Academy for Life, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

Communications: A group in cooperation with the Dicastery for Communications to provide information on the other groups and to promote communication with local churches around the world.

Foreign Relations: A group coordinated by the Section for Relations with States within the Secretariat of State to coordinate the Vatican’s outreach to other countries and to international bodies.

Finance: A finance group intended to generate resources to support local churches, Catholic organizations and the activities of the other working groups.

4. The church is closed, but its food pantry is open. A viral Facebook post swells volunteer numbers at a parish in Arlington.

By Emily Davies, The Washington Post, April 17, 2020, Pg. B1

Before the coronavirus crisis shut down baseball stadiums across the country, Daniel Tillson would have typically slipped on his Washington Nationals jersey around this time of year to watch his favorite team play. But on Wednesday, he exchanged cold beers for medical masks and the seventh-inning stretch for three-minute prayers as he began his shift at the food pantry at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church.

When the coronavirus pandemic first struck, it was not clear whether the small church in South Arlington would have enough resources to nourish its regular pantry shoppers in addition to the hundreds of new ones who would show up. But as the world around it falls into disarray, the parish and its long-standing pantry have become a center of hope and purpose for the community. In the past two weeks, the number of prospective volunteers has more than tripled, with upward of 40 people willing to help. Food donations have poured in.

5. Las Cruces bishop explains decision to resume public Masses, even with civic restrictions.

By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency, April 16, 2020, 11:35 AM

Bishop Peter Baldacchino of the Diocese of Las Cruces said the Church is the “essential service of hope” during the coronavirus pandemic, and that the Church must “welcome as many as we can” in line with public health regulations.

The bishop announced April 15 that public Masses and sacramental life in his diocese – including weddings and funerals – would resume, even while observing state public health rules that prohibit indoor gatherings of more than five people.

“You look around us right now in this country and what do you see? People are dying of this terrible disease, but also of despair. There are reports of increased suicides, crises of addiction, violence in the homes. This is a moment of total darkness for many.”

“We must bring the light of Christ into this darkness. We cannot close ourselves off, closeness in this moment is the one thing forbidden, and yet this is what we are called as priests to be: close to our people,” the bishop wrote.

Baldacchino also reiterated his opposition to the New Mexico governor’s decision to designate churches as “non-essential.”

“People are living in fear of death, of unemployment. They are sinking into despair. How much more essential could it be that we are with them, that we can feed the soul right now?” he asked.

He told CNA that he has been hearing confessions regularly outside his own cathedral, behind a screen to observe social distancing.

“It is a time of great risk for all of us, physically and spiritually, but as priests we are called for these moments. Like doctors and nurses, who are very much at risk at this time, our place is with the sick.”

“Pope Francis speaks of the Church as a field hospital for the wounded and sick. Well there are many people sick at soul and wounded by despair at this time, and I want to erect as many tents to treat them as best we can.”

6. New Mexico diocese to let small number of people attend Mass.

By Russell Contreras, Associated Press, April 16, 2020, 2:17 PM

A Roman Catholic diocese in New Mexico announced Wednesday it will reopen churches and allow a small number of people to attend public celebrations of Mass in what could be the first move to alter a diocese-declared ban on public services in the U.S.

Priests were encouraged to hold public Mass at Las Cruces Diocese parishes while having parishioners abide by social distancing restrictions ordered by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, diocese spokesman Christopher Velasquez said.

That means churches can only hold Mass with five or less people in attendance and they must stay 6 feet apart, Velasquez said.

7. Abortion opponents send bill to Kentucky governor.

By Bruce Schreiner, Associated Press, April 16, 2020, 8:21 PM

Republican lawmakers in Kentucky moved this week to give the state’s anti-abortion attorney general authority to regulate abortion clinics, but they may have acted too late if the state’s new Democratic governor objects.

The legislature passed the bill late Wednesday, on the last day of the 2020 legislative session. But if Gov. Andy Beshear decides to veto the bill and keep regulatory authority in his own administration’s hands, anti-abortion lawmakers won’t have the opportunity to override him.

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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