(Rome) Fr. Antonio Spadaro SJ, one of Pope Francis' closest confidants and the head of the Roman Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, provides an official reading of the radical measures taken because of the Coronavirus, which has strangled the sacramental life of the faithful on an unprecedented scale. In the editorial "Pandemic and Freedom of Worship" of the new issue of the magazine (issue 4078), which will be published on Saturday, Spadaro emphasizes that the months-long suspension of the Mass is "not a religious persecution" because the Church was "never closed".
It is the intention of the article, which appears shortly before the re-admission of public services in Italy, which will apply from 18 May, to defend the alliance between the state and the Church, which was almost self-imposed at the end of the day in the Corona crisis, with the Church having the unsuitable role of a state servant.
The ban on religious celebrations is "usually" understood as "discrimination or even persecution," Spadaro says. In the current case, however, this is not the case, Spadaro said. The Roman Jesuit magazine always appears with explicit permission from the Vatican Secretariat of State, with Pope Francis personally taking over the role of censor in contrast to his predecessors on articles that are important to him.
The printing permit confirms that Spadaros's reading is that of the Holy See. Spadaro becomes even clearer: "This does not seem to be the time to invoke a misunderstood 'civil disobedience'."
The Pope's confidant wants to say:
"The current restrictions are legal and acceptable from a human rights point of view. We believe that the protection of the weak and vulnerable is also very important from a religious point of view and must therefore be reconciled with the need for community and assembly. The measures are aimed at protecting human life for both believers and other members of society. it is therefore important to recognize that the prohibition of meetings, including religious celebrations, should not normally be understood as religious discrimination or even persecution."
The official, if only official, reading of the Holy See on the radical measures of secular and ecclesiastical authorities differs in essential points from the sensational appeal of Veritas liberabit vosof a group of well-known cardinals, bishops and intellectuals, including the former Prefect of the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Cardinal Müller. In it, they expressed concern about the radical restrictions, rebuked the uncritical, even propagandistic behavior of many mass media, and expressed fears that the Coronavirus could be used as a pretext for certain forces to reach for world domination through the establishment of a world government.
Spadaro does not mention the appeal. The positions are too far apart, and the Vatican does not want to be associated with such criticism. In recent years, a great deal of time and energy has been spent to get closer to these very forces that are meant in the call. Therefore, official Rome does not even want to promote this by mentioning the concerns and concerns mentioned in Veritas liberabit vos. Their effect on the people is feared. Spadaro therefore prefers silence.
However, he also mentions criteria for the restrictions imposed because of the Coronavirus:
'However, all restrictions on fundamental rights must have a legal basis, necessary, proportionate and generally proportionate to the purpose they serve and the law they restrict. The threat of Covid-19, however serious it may be, does not free governments and parliaments from these requirements."
However, a closer examination of whether these criteria have been and will be met, the secretary of the Civiltà Cattolica only applies the state measures to a limited extent, and where he does so, this is done in agreement. Given the large number of steps taken by individual governments, it would also be difficult to discuss the situation in broad terms. However, a number of measures are similar, just as the slogans issued are largely identical, even identical. Which suggests a common handwriting. A summary assessment would therefore be quite conceivable. If Spadaro does not attempt to do so, it confirms the basic intention of the editorial.
The head of the Roman Jesuit editorial board instead refers to the measures to restrict religious freedom, which recently caused considerable unrest in Italy. Initially, in the course of the so-called "Phase 2" from 4 May, the government had also promised to re-open public services, but then categorically ruled them out. Pope Francis had to intervene to soothe the displeasure of the bishops. The government then announced that it would be re-approved by the end of May, and then it agreed on 18 May.
Spadaro also responds to this:
Voices of the "various religious communities" had wondered "whether all measures of the lockdown were proportionate. On the other hand, because of the urgency and danger, governments had to make very serious and far-reaching decisions in the short term, which put a huge burden on them in terms of responsibility." An allusion to the fact that, for example, in Italy, the Corona measures were adopted by the government by mere decree of the Prime Minister, but without law. From a formal point of view, an entire country was paralysed by a mere administrative act and a 60 million people were taken hostage by state. Spadaro does not say that, but the reference to the "administrative act" at least makes it sound ominous.
Defence of government measures
In his editorial, however, he defends the radical measures taken:
Society must be "aware that the present restrictions are mainly for the moral imperative of protecting human life and are not used for other political purposes." They are to be understood in this way and exceptions are exceptions:'except in some regrettable cases'.
The fundamental approval and moral legitimacy of the state coercive measures is the common thread of the editorial:
"While in democratic states it is always necessary to scrutinise and monitor government measures, especially when they restrict fundamental rights, this does not seem to be the right time to invoke what would be a misunderstood 'civil disobedience'."
Finally, the ecclesiastical clean bill of health follows:
"Underestimating the health authority's claims would be irresponsible," he said.
This does not include a critical questioning of the significance, risk and extent of the Corona threat. Spadaro also expresses no concern about misleading scaremongering by government officials, experts and the media, for example, by repeatedly calling corona-positive people "sick," although all previous surveys show that no more than 10 percent of those infected fall ill with Covid-19. The virus is one thing, the disease (Covid-19) is something else.
It is only after his defence of the state restrictions that Spadaro says that it is "important":
"(...) governments provide ad hoc measures to enable believers to participate in the culture, in compliance with safety conditions based on the course of the epidemiological curve. The spiritual needs of religious communities, which contribute with their values to ensuring social stability and cohesion, must not be neglected."
The creation of a precedent
Implicitly, with the editorial of Pope Francis's close confidant, the Civiltà Cattolica calls the government's drastic interventions a precedent, which means that governments will in future be allowed to ban public services in the event of "health necessity." Since fewer people have died with and from the coronavirus in many countries, including the entire German-speaking area, than in a seasonal flu wave, this could also justify a permanent lockdown in the winter half-year, which paralyzes the world in every flu season. Moreover, no severe-mortality has been detected so far, not even in Italy, which plays a central role in general perception and media coverage, although in Belgium far more people are counted as "Corona deaths", as well as in Spain, and the United Kingdom is in the process of equating with Italy.
Spadaro does not ask questions about what is so different about the that it justifies such a radically different approach. Above all, it does not ask whether the assumptions used have been true. Nor about selective information policy, including the retention of important figures by the governments of different countries, the omission of important verifications, for example through antibody testing, and the conspicuously aggressive attitude towards critics.
The editorial, which is used to support the radical state and Church measures, ends with a statement that seems to be fundamentally correct, but in the overall context free in the air:
"The Church, if it really is the same, is never 'closed'"
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Picture: La Civiltà Cattolica/Twitter/Antonio Spadaro (Screenshots)
In a dramatic appeal, well-known cardinals such as Robert Cardinal Sarah, Janis Cardinal Pujats, Gerhard Cardinal Müller and Joseph Cardinal Zen, as well as dozens of bishops, priests and intellectuals, warn to stop the establishment of totalitarian practices under the pretext of containing Covid 19 most countries have been introduced.
Let us not allow centuries of Christian civilization to be wiped out with the excuse of a virus, to create a hideous technological tyranny in which nameless and faceless people decide the fate of the world by banishing us to a virtual reality.
The criminalization of personal and social relationships must be seen as an unacceptable part of the project of those who promote isolation in order to better manipulate and dominate them.
We demand that the restrictions on the celebration of public worship be lifted.
These statements are the key messages of the document, which is published in full here. The call by these brave cardinals can and should be supported .
CALL FOR THE CHURCH AND FOR THE WORLD to the Catholics and all people of good will
Veritas Liberabit Vos (Jn 8, 32)
At a time of great crisis, we pastors of the Catholic Church, because of our mandate, consider it our sacred duty to appeal to our confreres, the clergy, religious, the holy people of God, and all men and women of good will . This call is also signed by intellectuals, medical professionals, lawyers, journalists and other professionals who agree with the content. It can be signed by anyone who wants to make it their own.
Facts have shown that, under the guise of the Covid 19 epidemic, in many cases citizens' inalienable rights are violated and their fundamental freedoms are disproportionately and unjustifiably restricted, including the right to freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of movement. Public health must not and cannot be an alibi to violate the rights of millions of people around the world, let alone to relieve civil authorities of their duty to act with wisdom for the common good. This is all the more urgent, the more doubts are raised from various sides about the actual risk of infection, the danger and resistance to the virus:
We have reason to believe - based on official epidemic data on the number of deaths - that there are forces interested in causing panic among the population. In this way, they want to permanently impose forms of unacceptable restrictions on freedom, control of people and monitoring their movements. These illiberal measures of troubling precedent are a prelude to the creation of a world government that defies oversight.
We also believe that in some situations, containment measures, including the closure of businesses and establishments that have led to a crisis that has brought entire economic sectors to a standstill, have been taken to encourage interference from foreign powers, with serious social and political implications.
These forms of social engineering must be stopped by those in charge of government by taking measures to protect the citizens of whom they are representatives and in whose interests they must act, as is their serious duty. They must help and avoid the family, the cell of society, inappropriately disadvantaging the weak and the elderly and forcing them to painfully separate from their relatives. The criminalization of personal and social relationships must be condemned as an unacceptable part of a project to encourage isolation in order to better manipulate and control them.
We call upon the scientific community to ensure that the medical treatment of Covid-19 promotes a sincere concern for the common good and is therefore taken to avoid that dubious business interests influence the decisions of governments and international agencies. It is unreasonable to outlaw drugs that have proven to be effective and are often inexpensive, to give priority to treatments or vaccines that are not as effective but guarantee higher profits for pharmaceutical companies. This increases the cost of public health. As pastors, we are here to remind that it is morally unacceptable for Catholics to be treated with vaccines made from aborted fetuses.
We also urge the government to ensure that forms of control over people, be it through tracing systems or through any other form of localization, are to be strictly avoided. The fight against Covid-19, however serious it may be, must not serve as an excuse to support the opaque intentions of supranational organizations and groups that are pursuing very strong political and economic interests with this project. In particular, the citizens must be given the opportunity to reject restrictions on personal freedoms and to be punished to avoid an imminent obligation to vaccinate and not to use tracing systems or similar instruments.
Note also the obvious contradiction of those who, on the one hand, pursue a policy of drastically reducing the population and at the same time present themselves as saviors of mankind, even though they have no legitimacy, neither a political nor a social one. Ultimately, the political responsibility of those who represent the people cannot under any circumstances be delegated to "experts" who - and this is truly worrying - call for forms of criminal immunity for themselves.
We urge the media to forcefully, to actively commit to an accurate transfer of information and to allow dissent, rather than how widespread in social media, in the press and on television now, exercise, forms of censorship. Correct disclosure of information means that other voices that deviate from the prevailing opinion are also given space. This enables citizens to consciously evaluate the facts themselves and not to be influenced by strong partisan statements. A democratic and honest debate is the best antidote to the danger of subtle forms of dictatorship, probably worse than those that our society has seen and passed in the recent past.
Finally, as shepherds who are responsible for the flock of Christ, let us remember that the Church insists on claiming autonomy in leadership, worship, and preaching. This autonomy and freedom of the Church is a fundamental right that the Lord Jesus Christ gave it so that it can pursue the goals that are its own. For this reason, as shepherds, we expressly claim the right to make independent decisions about the celebration of Holy Mass and the sacraments. We also demand the recognition of our full autonomy in all matters that come under the direct responsibility of Church authority, such as: the liturgical norms and the legal requirements for the donation of Holy Communion and the administration of the Sacraments. The state has no right whatsoever to interfere in the sovereignty of the Church for whatever reason.The rights of God and believers are the supreme law of the Church, which it can neither do without nor want to do without. We therefore request that the restrictions on the celebration of public services be lifted.
We invite all people of good will not to evade their duty to contribute to the common good, everyone according to their status and opportunities, in the spirit of brotherly love for others. However, this cooperation desired by the Church cannot be separated from respect for natural law or the safeguarding of individual freedoms. The civil law obligations of citizens imply that the state recognizes their rights.
We are all called to assess the current facts in accordance with the teaching of the Gospel. This requires a decision: either with Christ or against Christ! Let us not be intimidated or even frightened by those who want to make us believe that we are only a minority: the good is much more widespread and powerful than the world wants us to believe. We are fighting an invisible enemy who wants to separate the citizens, the children from their parents, grandchildren from their grandparents, believers from their pastors, students from their teachers and customers from their sellers. Let us not allow centuries of Christian civilization to be wiped out under the pretext of a virus, to erect a despicable technocratic tyranny, in which people, whose names and faces are unknown, can decide the fate of the world by banishing us to a virtual reality. If this is the plan by which the powerful of this world want to bow us, then they should know that Jesus Christ, King and Lord of History, has promised that "the powers of darkness" will not prevail (Mt 16:18)
Let us entrust the rulers and all those who control the fate of the nations to Almighty God so that He may enlighten and guide them in this difficult moment of crisis. You should remember that, just as the Lord will judge us shepherds for His flock that He has entrusted to us, He will also judge those who are responsible for defending and governing their people.
We want to pray to the Lord with firm faith so that He may protect the Church and the world. May the Blessed Virgin, help of Christians, crush the head of the old serpent and destroy the plans of the sons of darkness.