Having said that, I entirely agree with Lawler. His
basic message is that the fear of the disease has become more damaging
than the disease itself. The name of St Charles Borromeo keeps cropping
up on the internet these days. How did he deal with the plague that
caused havoc in his diocese? Lawler rightly mentions St Damien of
Molokai and St Peter Faber. How did the Catholic Church deal with the
Spanish flu which killed more people than the First World War? Were
churches closed when there was constant risk of bombs falling during
the World Wars? No. Visiting churches became a vital part of life,
perhaps even more vital when there was death everywhere.
We appear to fear death more than
anything else, even though our faith
tells us that Jesus Christ has overcome death. We should certainly fear
hell more. But even here, we have been given the means of avoiding
ending up there. When confronted with the prospect of death, we need
more access to our churches and more recourse to the sacraments. We
need more priests to behave like St Charles Borromeo. Many priests have
done precisely that.
And just when we needed access to our churches, they closed down! Our bishops listened to "expert" opinions. With appropriate measures, churches could have been safely managed. Instead of giving us hope, so many of our leaders helped spread panic and despair. We started blaming certain groups for spreading the disease.
What an opportunity it would have been for
Christians to bring hope to people, to bring them to Christ. But, as
Lawler notes, we needed to nourish our own faith by means of the
sacraments. But the doors were closed. Our leaders largely failed us.
What about unethically sourced vaccines? I agree with Lawler. The time to object to them was before they were manufactured. In a time of grave need, remote material cooperation may be justified, according to Church teaching.Which is very different from saying that all Catholics are obliged morally to have the vaccine.
In 2011, the Archbishop of Boston wrote a pastoral letter praising Catholics who risked their lives going to Mass on Sundays. During the pandemic, he told people to stay at home.
Lawler quotes the great Dietrich Von Hildebrand who
noted that liberal bishops are very "pastoral" with Catholics who
dissent from basic Church teachings but "dogmatic" with orthodox
Catholics. Liberal bishops want to deal with pro-abortion politicians
in a "pastoral" way but anyone who dissents on masks and vaccines will
be treated as heretics. Lawler quotes one bishop who said that the Mass
will stop as soon as a mask is removed by a member of the congregation.
Other bishops have also demonstrated their authoritarian stance on
masks and vaccines.But not on abortion. I could not help but call to
mind Cardinal Cupich of Chicago, who has become the poster boy for
liberal Catholic intolerance.
All in all, a vitally needed work.