UNITED KINGDOM, May 7, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the U.K.’s senior Catholic cleric, told Catholics that it would be a “scandal” for churches to open for private prayer at present. This comes after the bishops previously made it clear that they helped convince the government to close the churches.
The comment was made in a letter sent to Catholics in the U.K. who had written to the bishops asking that the churches be reopened.
“I ask you to remember that the churches are closed because of the restrictions established by the Government,” Nichols’s letter states.
“The Prime Minister said this explicitly on 23rd March. These restrictions are still in place as part of the great effort to contain this deadly virus. To do so is a serious moral imperative. To act contrary to this guideline would be to endanger life and to act in a way that gave scandal,” he continued.
The letter does not acknowledge that the bishops themselves, according to their own statement, played a key role in the U.K. government closing churches even to private prayer.
The Catholic bishops prohibited the celebration of public Masses before the lockdown came into force and, according to their own statement, played a crucial role themselves in convincing the government to require that churches be closed altogether.
A March 24 statement from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales (CBCEW) explained the role played by Professor Jim McManus, a member of the health care reference group for the bishops’ conference, in convincing the government to close churches after guidance from the ministry of housing, communities, and local government had stated that “places of worship should remain open for solitary prayer.”
“Professor Jim McManus has spoken with a senior civil servant and it was quite clear they just had not thought through the issues of infection and security of churches and when he made these points clear, they were appalled and agreed they had made a mistake,” the diocese’s statement said.
“Keeping churches open sends an utterly inconsistent message and therefore they must be closed for the benefit of others and stopping infection,” the bishops continued.
Maria Haynes, a Catholic housewife, mother, and NHS professional who has spent over thirty years working as a pro-family, pro-life activist, told LifeSite that “when supermarkets are open, maintaining government guidelines, there is no case to support Catholic churches being closed.”
Haynes, who received the letter from Nichols, told LifeSite that she has written a response to the cardinal asking him if at this time of great stress it has been explained to the government that Catholics desperately need access to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.
“In the secular world in which we are living, we Catholics cannot assume that any of our government ministers have the slightest understanding of Catholic belief in this regard and therefore we must make sure that they are made aware of this,” Haynes said.
Haynes told LifeSite she has respond to Nichols, asking him:
Did the government “establish” these “restrictions” following consultation with you as leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales? I ask this because my understanding is that the government’s jurisdiction over Catholic Church matters ends at the front door of each Catholic church.
In his letter, Nichols also suggested that Catholics contact the secretary of state for the ministry of housing, communities, and local government, Rt. Hon. Robert Jenrick, to express their “deep desire” to have renewed access to churches “for prayer and for the celebration of Sacraments” and to “stress how essential these matters are in your life.”
Haynes told LifeSite she has responded to Nichols, asking: “While we had already done this prior to receiving your letter, Your Eminence, I must ask you as our cardinal, have you done this on our behalf?”
Haynes told LifeSite that she has spoken to other Catholics in the U.K. who have received similar letters from Nichols.
“Catholic parishes throughout England and Wales are perfectly capable of putting systems in place to ensure that government guidelines on social distancing are followed,” she said.
Last month, Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth questioned the wisdom of churches being closed during the coronavirus lockdown. LifeSite wrote to Egan to ask if, in light of his comments, he was planning to reopen his churches for private prayer but did not receive a response.
To respectfully and charitably communicate your wishes to your bishops, please use this search engine to find contact details for Catholic bishops in England and Wales and this one here for Catholic bishops in Scotland. Cardinal Nichols can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
How would you describe Cardinal Nicholas – faithless? misguided? What possible reason could Cardinal Nicholas (and the rest of the hierarchy, north and south of the border) have for actually wanting to keep the churches closed? Of course, maybe you agree with keeping churches closed – maybe you think it would be a scandal to re-open them. Share your thoughts… politely!
During Holy Week the blog is usually closed to comments. This year, due to the unusual circumstances in which we find ourselves, we’ve decided to leave the blog open, while encouraging everyone to spend less time blogging – the Catholic Truth team plan to do just that, in order to focus as fully as possible on the events of this Holy Week through spiritual reading, reflection and prayer. The various topic threads will remain open, but we won’t be posting any new topic threads. Instead, everyone is free to post any news updates here, if the topic is not already listed. So, whether it is a news update on the Coronavirus crisis or a specifically Church-related matter, this thread should serve the purpose.
We would ask bloggers to resist the temptation to continue any conversation which looks like ending in an unpleasant argument – this week should be a peaceful week, where we find time to think seriously about what our Saviour suffered in order to afford us the possibility of saving our souls from eternal misery in Hell. Any outbreak of animosity will force the administrator to take the necessary steps to restore peace. Hopefully, we will all be able to benefit from the religious and spiritual content posted, and any news updates will be understood to be for information and reasonable commentary only. Thank you everyone for your co-operation in this regard.
The first purpose of this thread, of course, is to allow us to reflect on the Passion and Death of Our Lord. Bloggers may post their own favourite reflections, poems, prayers and hymns to share, and since we are unable to attend the usual Church services, we may take advantage of the temporary provision of Live-Stream services here (UK) and/or here (USA)
We wish everyone a very peaceful and spiritually fruitful Holy Week.
The above video address is taken from The Remnant Video platform, where we read: Bishop Athanasius Schneider grew up under Soviet tyranny and so quite obviously knows of what he speaks. He also knows how to survive and keep the Faith, and it is for this reason that we’re happy to offer this hopeful video message at this particular moment of uncertainty.
God has not abandoned us. God has not abandoned His Church. There is a worldwide brotherhood of faithful Catholics—subjects of Christ the King, children of the Queen of Heaven—and we are all in this together, united in the old Faith. Remnant Comment Ends.
In the comments, underneath the video address, one blogger writes: He is right! This has been a globally planned event. This is NOT the plague. This wholly disproportionate reaction has garnered an unprecedented global cooperation the likes of which has never been seen before in the entire history of mankind — discouraging daily human interaction and contact, shutting down schools and businesses, bringing the world economy almost to a standstill . When have the nations of the world ever cooperated to enact the same rules and measures that results in exerting control over most of the global population! It is all spun in such a positive manner. It is because all of our govts care about us and about saving lives. Even in the sparsely populated area of Patagonia at the bottom of the world the border agents were in hazmat suits, stopping the few cars on the little dirt road that served as a border crossing between Chile and Argentina! I want to see it as a good thing but an ominous sense of foreboding keeps getting in the way of that. I have always been a bit too gullible, but even I cannot swallow all these govts doing all of this for our own good because they care so much about us…please...
Yet, Bishop Schneider insists…
Well – is Bishop Schneider correct? Do you agree that this trial will bring us greater spiritual benefit than if we had not experienced it? Source – The Remnant
A Lent challenge: Do I really believe? (From March 2020 edition of Flourish)
I believe in miracles … do you? That’s the powerful question asked by Archbishop Tartaglia this month as Lent begins in earnest. In a powerful interview with Flourish, Glasgow’s Archbishop calls for a new effort at fostering devotion to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and a renewed sense of the sacred. Editor: Why’s that, then? Why the need for “a new effort… devotion… Real Presence… sense of the sacred…”? Whatever happened to the “old” devotion and sense of the sacred? Could it be that the “success” of the ecumenical and inter-faith focus of the Church has led to practical indifferentism among the faithful who now believe that one religion / denomination is as good as another, that we’re all going to Heaven, no need to be “dogmatic” about anything? Jesus loves us and we don’t need “organised religion” any more. Just a thought.
The Archbishop spoke after a recent survey in the US showed only 30 per cent of Catholics fully accepted the doctrine of transubstantiation, namely the bread and wine offered at Mass truly become the body and blood of Christ at the moment of consecration. Editor: Which means that 70% do NOT believe in transubstantiation… How did that happen, then?
Archbishop Tartaglia speaks frankly in the interview about the liturgical and catechetical mistakes which followed Vatican II and acknowledges that “the Church has gone through testing times in the post-conciliar period, much of it self-inflicted. There has been bad catechesis and bad theology around the Eucharist, with the result that many people cannot articulate the Church’s faith in the Eucharist even in simple terms.” Editor: well, Glory Hallelujah! That is some admission. Every word a jewel. At long last, Archbishop. Still, a wee apology after the spirit of the age would be good. It’s called “taking responsibility”. And then let’s see some action! Sacking the entire staff at the Scottish Catholic Education Service plus reinstating Thomism in seminaries would be a start: producing theologically literate priests and teachers can only help…
He adds starkly: “Many supportive elements of our practice, like fasting and genuflection and kneeling, and devotional prayers and practices, have been neglected. None of this has helped to nourish the faith of the People of God in the Most Holy Eucharist.” Editor: “genuflection and kneeling” don’t come naturally to those who think of Our Lord as merely their “brother” and who – as the Archbishop now acknowledges – lack belief in His Real Presence. Who, after all, ordered the tabernacles to be placed out of sight (and thus out of mind, as the saying goes), along with the removal of altar rails and kneelers, because it is that person who bears massive responsibility before God for causing and maintaining the apostasy which Pope John Paul II once described as “silent”, but which is now screaming from the rooftops.
But the Archbishop is clear that the answer is not a return to the past or a rejection of the liturgical changes of Vatican II. Editor: WRONG! How on earth does the Archbishop think we got to the stage where the vast majority of Catholics, by his own admission, do not believe in a central dogma of the Faith – the Real Presence – if not as a result of “the liturgical changes of Vatican II”? This has to be a rhetorical question because the answer is so painfully obvious.
He says: “The Novus Ordo, the ‘new’ Mass, is not a defective form of the Mass. Its structure is based soundly on the great liturgical tradition. Its theology is orthodox. Like any other form of the Mass, when celebrated well, it more fully achieves God’s purpose. When celebrated poorly, it obscures God’s purpose.” Editor: So the poor faithful are to be left at the mercy of the priest, hoping he does not “obscure God’s purpose”… What?! The new Mass is definitely defective. Its structure is totally contradictory to “the great liturgical tradition”: for example, never before in the entire history of the Church has the priest faced the congregation at Mass throughout. This is but one, highly distracting, innovation, one departure from Catholic Tradition which totally “obscures God’s purpose” in the Mass and turns it into an entertainment platform, and in some cases, a circus. So seriously did certain Cardinals regard this novel Mass, recognising that it was truly defective, that they wrote to Pope Paul VI, arguing that “…the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent. The “canons” of the rite definitively fixed at that time provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Mystery.” To read the entire letter/critique, click here
And he reminds readers that the teaching of the Church has been clear and unchanging in recent decades: “There has been good and faithful catechesis and teaching on the Eucharist during the post-Vatican II era, starting from Pope St Paul VI. His successors Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI taught firmly and beautifully on the Mass and on the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. Editor: So, how come the majority of Catholics have lost the Faith – a fact which the Archbishop acknowledges?
“Pope Francis summed up the Church’s teaching simply and powerfully last year on the feast of Corpus Christi: ‘Whenever we approach the altar to receive the Eucharist, we must truly renew our ‘amen’ to the Body of Christ… It is Jesus, it is Jesus who saved me, it is Jesus who comes to give me the strength to live. It is Jesus alive.’” Editor: is that it? Hardly an explanation, let alone a ringing endorsement, of transubstantiation – but merely a vague pious statement to which any Protestant could subscribe. Protestants who believe that they receive Christ “spiritually” in their bread and wine, could pray those words.
And he ended his interview with a cry of hope … “There is no pastoral plan that can fix this situation without insisting upon a renewed and profound faithfulness to Christ and to his Gospel. The answer will depend on much more faithful preaching and teaching at all levels which will lay out for the faithful the truth, beauty and wonder of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist so that they may receive him in Holy Communion with faith and devotion for the salvation of their souls. Editor: can’t argue with that – but how is this “more faithful preaching and teaching at all levels…” to be achieved? There’s plenty of piously “hopeful” rhetoric coming from the Archbishop in this interview, but precious little in the way of concrete planning to put right the indiscipline, errors, liturgical and catechetical abuses of the past 50 plus years. And the check list below, really doesn’t offer any of that pious “hope”. Apparently this “more faithful preaching and teaching at all levels” will be achieved as follows:
• It will be expressed in more obedient and authentic liturgy. Editor: that can only mean the traditional Latin Mass, offered in every parish in the archdiocese – a solution rejected by the Archbishop.
• It will be accompanied by a much greater response to Vatican II’s universal call to holiness from all sectors of the Church. Editor: if “Vatican II’s universal call to holiness” is different from the perennial call to holiness of the Church since apostolic times, let’s hear it. It is, in fact, this heresy – that the Church only really began at Vatican II, with the arrival of the Holy Ghost at the Council – that has led to the current decline.
• It will demand a true conversion to the moral and social teaching of the Church. Editor: true. Which will require priests and bishops to openly preach true morals, deny pro-abortion politicians Holy Communion and refuse to permit scandalous funerals, such as the very public funerals of partnered homosexuals which have taken place in Glasgow in recent years. And in terms of the social teaching of the Church – that means priests and bishops preaching that, at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching is the belief that Christ must be at the head of every nation under Heaven. The Church is not an arm of the Social Work Department. She cannot support immoral national laws, in the name of Catholic Social Teaching.
• It will be based on a much more frequent and respectful practice around Mass, the Sacraments and an increased sensitivity to the sphere of the sacred. Editor: that brings us full circle back to the need to restore that which has been lost – the traditional Latin Mass, and, in the meantime, an end to the various liturgical abuses now normalised – such as Communion in the hand, drinking from the Chalice and lay people playing at being priests. We want rid of Extraordinay Ministers of Holy Communion: when do we want it? NOW!
• It will be supported by much more prayer, devotion and penance.
Editor: once the traditional liturgy has been restored, “all these other things will be given to you”, to (kinda) quote the Gospel.
Its source and outcome will be a greater faith, hope and charity. It may well take a miracle of grace and conversion to restore our Eucharistic faith … but thankfully, I believe in miracles.” Editor: yes, it will take a miracle, which is why we, at Catholic Truth, never lose sight of the need for the Pope and all the Bishops of the world to unite in consecrating Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as Our Lady requested. Until then, as we can see from the above interview (notwithstanding his honest admission of the dire state of the Church on his watch) Archbishop Tartaglia is still in denial as to the only way to put matters right, which is the restoration of all things in Christ; in other words, he must give us back what modernist churchmen have taken from us in the past half-century – our Catholic heritage. The spiritual blindness which we are witnessing in the post-Vatican II churchmen from the top down, continues to display itself in interviews such as this, where the Archbishop just cannot see that it is only when the Traditional Faith in its theological and liturgical purity is restored, that his “miracle” will be achieved. Source – March 2020 edition of Flourish – official publication of the Archdiocese of Glasgow.
We are reflecting upon, and discussing, the shocking state of the Church on various threads; We have noted that Our Lord, Christ the King, is being abused and insulted at the highest levels in His Church today. The human element in the Church is all but obscuring the divine. Let us, therefore, use this Feast Day thread as a small means of reparation, as well as celebration. Take a few minutes to share your favourite hymns and prayers, devotions, novenas, pilgrimages etc. as a means of reminding ourselves that, despite the scandalous outward appearances, Christ is remaining true to His promise to be with His Church right to the end: “…And behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (Matt 28:20)
Real faith is required of us today – we cannot merely, as some put it, “cling to a tribal identity”. Perhaps a short extract from the life of St Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower, will point us towards the attitude of soul which we might most profitably embrace at this time – the saint is writing (to her Superior) about the affliction of her “dark night of the soul”:
From the time of my childhood I felt that one day I should be set free from this land of darkness. I believed it, not only because I had been told so by others, but my heart’s most secret and deepest longings assured me that there was in store for me another and more beautiful country—an abiding dwelling-place. I was like Christopher Columbus, whose genius anticipated the discovery of the New World. And suddenly the mists about me have penetrated my very soul and have enveloped me so completely that I cannot even picture to myself this promised country . . . all has faded away. When my heart, weary of the surrounding darkness, tries to find some rest in the thought of a life to come, my anguish increases. It seems to me that out of the darkness I hear the mocking voice of the unbeliever: “You dream of a land of light and fragrance, you dream that the Creator of these wonders will be yours for ever, you think one day to escape from these mists where you now languish. Nay, rejoice in death, which will give you, not what you hope for, but a night darker still, the night of utter nothingness!”
Dear Mother, this description of what I suffer is as far removed from reality as the first rough outline is from the model, but I fear that to write more were to blaspheme . . . even now I may have said too much. May God forgive me! He knows that I try to live by Faith, though it does not afford me the least consolation. I have made more acts of Faith in this last year than during all the rest of my life. (Chapter IX, The Story of a Soul).
Maybe we should compete with this great saint and Doctor of the Church, in making many acts of Faith, not just on this beautiful Feast, but every day throughout the worsening crisis in the Church. Here’s one – if you have a favourite, please share:
An Act of Faith…
O MY GOD, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in Three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I believe that Thy Divine Son became Man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen.