Christopher A. Ferrara writes for Catholic Perspectives – The “Appeal for the Church and the World,” whose principal author is Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, has attracted enough prominent signatories to constitute the document as a turning point in the abject submission of the human element of the Church to the worldly powers that are exploiting the Wuhan virus to usher the world into the final stages of a secularist dystopia in which the churches are closed while the abortion mills remain open.
Putting aside Cardinal Sarah’s retreat from the document he signed, no less than Cardinal Gerhard Muller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has lent his name to the Appeal, along with Cardinal Joseph Zen, emeritus Bishop of Hong Kong, and Cardinal Janis Pujats, emeritus Archbishop of Riga, Latvia.
Most remarkable of all, however, is the signature of Bishop Joseph Strickland, the current Bishop of Tyler, Texas (who is joined by Bishop Rene Gracida, emeritus Bishop of Corpus Christi). It took enormous courage for this lone bishop, still in possession of an episcopal see, to break ranks with his quiescent confreres, who have bent over backwards to give to Caesar what is God’s by allowing their churches to be declared “non-essential” under the executive orders of various state governors.
All of the Appeal’s signatories imperil their positions in the Church and in academia because the Appeal dares to state the obvious about our situation. Nothing is considered more dangerous in our time, or more subject to censorship by tech overlords, than a statement of the obvious truth. In this case, the following:
“The facts have shown that, under the pretext of the Covid-19 epidemic, the inalienable rights of citizens have in many cases been violated and their fundamental freedoms, including the exercise of freedom of worship, expression and movement, have been disproportionately and unjustifiably restricted. Public health must not, and cannot, become an alibi for infringing on the rights of millions of people around the world, let alone for depriving the civil authority of its duty to act wisely for the common good. This is particularly true as growing doubts emerge from several quarters about the actual contagiousness, danger and resistance of the virus. Many authoritative voices in the world of science and medicine confirm that the media’s alarmism about Covid-19 appears to be absolutely unjustified.”
In short, the signatories have dared to challenge the narrative of the Sacred Lockdown that is giving birth to the “post-COVID world” of globalist dreams:
“We have reason to believe, on the basis of official data on the incidence of the epidemic as related to the number of deaths, that there are powers interested in creating panic among the world’s population with the sole aim of permanently imposing unacceptable forms of restriction on freedoms, of controlling people and of tracking their movements. The imposition of these illiberal measures is a disturbing prelude to the realization of a world government beyond all control.”
The Appeal is a frontal attack on every element of that narrative: from the evil of government measures that have “brought down entire sectors of the economy”; to “penalizing the weak and elderly, forcing them into a painful separation from their loved ones”; to the “criminalization of personal and social relationships” via bans on “gatherings”; to “isolating individuals in order to better manipulate and control them”; to the cynical ploy of delaying the reopening of countries for normal social, political and religious activity until there are “treatments or vaccines” — meaning never; to “the hidden intentions of supranational bodies that have very strong commercial and political interests in this plan.”
The Appeal rightly demands what natural law and natural justice require: that “citizens must be given the opportunity to refuse these restrictions on personal freedom, without any penalty whatsoever being imposed on those who do not wish to use vaccines, contact tracking or any other similar tool.”
Finally, and most important, the Appeal calls Catholic churchmen to their duty before God and man not to consent to the closure of churches and the suppression of divine worship:
“Finally, as Pastors responsible for the flock of Christ, let us remember that the Church firmly asserts her autonomy to govern, worship, and teach. This autonomy and freedom are an innate right that Our Lord Jesus Christ has given her for the pursuit of her proper ends. For this reason, as Pastors we firmly assert the right to decide autonomously on the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments…
“The State has no right to interfere, for any reason whatsoever, in the sovereignty of the Church. Ecclesiastical authorities have never refused to collaborate with the State, but such collaboration does not authorize civil authorities to impose any sort of ban or restriction on public worship or the exercise of priestly ministry. The rights of God and of the faithful are the supreme law of the Church, which she neither intends to, nor can, abdicate. We ask that restrictions on the celebration of public ceremonies be removed.”
A wonderful document indeed, and long overdue. But here is the awful truth about the context in which it appears: We have a Pope who is opposed to everything the document declares and has aligned himself with the very powers the Appeal so courageously opposes. There is simply no denying this. Let Pope Francis’ own words make the case against him:
Opposing the demand of the Italian bishops’ conference for an end to the church closures in Italy, Francis declared, on the contrary: “In this time in which dispositions are beginning to be made for exiting from the quarantine, let’s pray to the Lord that he gives his people, all of us, the grace of prudence and obedience to those dispositions, so the pandemic does not return.”
As John Allen wryly observed: “All up and down Italy, that crumbling sound you heard was a score of Italian bishops preparing to issue statements criticizing the government who, after the pope finished, threw their drafts into trash cans. Prior to that moment, many Italian bishops probably would have assumed that Francis supported their protests.”
In an article entitled “Pope Francis dreams of post coronavirus world without inequalities,” Nicole Winfield reports that in a homily on April 19, Francis declared: “May we be profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us. The time has come to eliminate inequalities, to heal the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family!”
Earlier, in a letter to the president of the Pan-American Committee of Men and Women Judges for Social Rights, Francis declared that the draconian lockdowns imposed by states’ left-leaning governments around the world are “exemplary measures, with priorities that are well targeted at defending the population,” and that even if they “annoy those who find themselves obliged to comply” they “are always for the common good and, by and large, the majority of the people accept them and respond with a positive attitude.”
In short, the Appeal protests efforts by the powers of this world to shackle civil society and the Church on the pretext of a virus, while the Pope applauds them. Surely this astonishing state of affairs belongs among the myriad indications of an “apostasy that begins at the top,” as Cardinal Ciappi famously observed concerning the Third Secret of Fatima