CNA Staff, May 7, 2020 / 03:45 pm (CNA).- Hours after the publication of a controversial open letter regarding the coronavirus pandemic, the prefect of the Church’s dicastery for liturgy and sacraments, listed among the signers of the letter, said he did not sign it.
The letter says the coronavirus pandemic has been exaggerated to foster widespread social panic and undercut freedom, as a preparation for the establishment of a one-world government.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments, tweeted: “I share on a personal basis some of the questions or concerns raised with regard to restrictions on fundamental freedoms, but I have not signed this petition.”
“A cardinal prefect of the Roman Curia must observe a certain reserve in political matters, Sarah wrote in another tweet, “so I explicitly asked this morning the authors of the petition titled ‘for the Church and for the world’ not to mention me.”
Sarah was listed as a signatory of the letter when it was published May 7 by several websites and media outlets. Sarah’s denial raises questions about the legitimacy of other reported signatories to the letter.
“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,” said the “Appeal for the Church and the World,” published May 7 by several media outlets, including the National Catholic Register.
“The imposition of these illiberal measures is a disturbing prelude to the realization of a world government beyond all control,” the letter added. (bold original)
Among the letter’s reported signatories are four cardinals: Sarah, who has now indicated he is not a signatory; Cardinal Gerhard Muller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Zen, emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, and Cardinal Janis Pujats, emeritus archbishop of Riga, Latvia.
Also a reported signatory is Archbishop Carlo Vigano, who made headlines for an August 2018 letter that alleged Vatican officials had ignored warnings about the sexual abuse of disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Since that time, Vigano has released numerous letters expressing his viewpoints on matters in the Church, which include criticisms of Pope Francis and other curial officials.
Two U.S. bishops are also alleged signatories: Bishop Rene Gracida, emeritus bishop of Corpus Christi, and Bishop Joseph Strickland, the Bishop of Tyler, Texas.
Along with several other bishops, the well-known auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, is listed as a signer of the letter.
Another reported signatory is Fr. Curzio Nitoglia, a priest of the Society of St. Pius X, a traditionalist group in “irregular communion” with the Church. Nitoglia is the author of “The Magisterium of Vatican II,” a 1994 article that claims that “the church of Vatican II is therefore not the Apostolic and Roman Catholic Church instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ.”
While the letter has been published by several websites and media outlets, CNA has been unable to independently confirm the authenticity of its alleged signatures, raising questions about whether other alleged signatories gave their consent to be listed as signatories to the letter.
In addition to the National Catholic Register, the letter has been published by Lifesitenews, and the ChurchMilitant website.
The May 7 letter argued that the coronavirus pandemic has been sensationalized and exploited, to impede civil rights and exact government control over individuals and families.
The letter said that “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.”
“Many authoritative voices in the world of science and medicine confirm that the media’s alarmism about Covid-19 appears to be absolutely unjustified.”
Nearly 4 million people worldwide have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 270,000 have died. In some countries, death rates in the months of the coronavirus pandemic have far exceeded death rates over the same months in previous years, suggesting to some demographers and epidemiologists that coronavirus deaths have been dramatically undercounted.
The pandemic, and the social distancing and stay-at-home orders issued to slow its spread, have become a source of considerable controversy in recent weeks. In the U.S., protests in several state capitals have gathered demonstrators in close proximity to one another, a move public health experts say could lead to new outbreaks of the disease.
The letter said that the economic crisis occasioned by the global pandemic “encourages interference by foreign powers and has serious social and political repercussions. Those with governmental responsibility must stop these forms of social engineering, by taking measures to protect their citizens whom they represent, and in whose interests they have a serious obligation to act.”
“The criminalization of personal and social relationships must likewise be judged as an unacceptable part of the plan of those who advocate isolating individuals in order to better manipulate and control them,” the authors added.
No cure or therapeutic treatment has yet been identified for the virus. In early weeks of the pandemic, President Donald Trump hypothesized that hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial medication, could help treat the disease. U.S. researchers have largely moved away from the medication, especially after a student by the Veterans’ Administration found that administering the drug leads to higher death rates of patients receiving it.
Some, including television hosts Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity have alleged that the study is inaccurate. Some protestors have suggested the VA study was intended to discredit Trump or profit vaccine manufacturers.
In an apparent reference to the hydroxychloroquine controversy, the May 7 letter said that: “Every effort must be made to ensure that shady business interests do not influence the choices made by government leaders and international bodies. It is unreasonable to penalize those remedies that have proved to be effective, and are often inexpensive, just because one wishes to give priority to treatments or vaccines that are not as good, but which guarantee pharmaceutical companies far greater profits, and exacerbate public health expenditures.”
“Let us also remember, as Pastors, that for Catholics it is morally unacceptable to develop or use vaccines derived from material from aborted fetuses,” the letter added.
The U.S. bishops conference has also said vaccine development should avoid unethical links to abortion.
The letter argues that governments do not have the right to ban or restrict public worship or other kinds of ministry, and asks that any such restrictions be rescinded.
On the sacraments, which have been subject both to voluntary restrictions and public health orders in some states, the letter noted that “the Church firmly asserts her autonomy to govern, worship, and teach.”
“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.”
While restrictions on public worship have been met with public criticism in many places, the objections have been most pronounced in Italy.
After Italy’s prime minister announced in late April new health measures that would continue prohibiting religious gatherings, the Italian bishops released a statement denouncing the decision, which the bishops criticized as “arbitrary.” Two days later, Pope Francis seemed to signal his own view, praying while celebrating Mass that Christians would respond to the lifting of lockdown restrictions with “prudence and obedience.”
Along with cardinals, bishops, and priests, the letter’s signatories also included some academics, journalists, and scientists. Included among them are Vatican journalists Marco Tosatti and Robert Moynihan, Lifesitenews editor John-Henry Westen, Stephen Mosher, president of the Virginia-based Population Research Institute, and the leaders of pro-life groups in Texas and Ohio.
The letter’s signatories encouraged Catholics, and “all men and women of good will” to “assess the current situation in a way consistent with the teaching of the Gospel. This means taking a stand: either with Christ or against Christ.” (bold original)
“Let us not allow centuries of Christian civilization to be erased under the pretext of a virus, and an odious technological tyranny to be established, in which nameless and faceless people can decide the fate of the world by confining us to a virtual reality. If this is the plan to which the powers of this earth intend to make us yield, know that Jesus Christ, King and Lord of History, has promised that ‘the gates of Hell shall not prevail’ (Mt 16:18).”
The Holy See has not yet commented on the letter.
This story has been updated since its original publication. It is developing and will continue to be updated.
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Those responsible for any deception need be named and held accountable. Is there not a single soul in the episcopate who can be relied upon?
Was the letter published without confirmation of the authenticity of the signatories? What could have warranted this?
I am saddened that this Bishop has opined against medical facts. We have seen what early preparation did in L.A. and what waiting caused in New York. We must support or medical teams and quash any message alluding that pandemic is not occurring or is being sensationalized.
I’m being extremely cautious re Covid
infection. Many people in my area have died from it. And not just those in care homes. It’s a real public health crisis.
But I also realize that any crisis can be exploited to further political or philosophical ends and surely a crisis that affects the entire world is ideal for those with global agendas?
Did you even bother to read the article before pontificating and casting judgment? It clearly indicates that the cardinal did not sign the letter. It’s your perspective that is sensationalized.
” We must support or medical teams and quash any message alluding that pandemic is not occurring or is being sensationalized.”
Wow! I grew up on the other side of the Iron curtain and this kind of writing was to be expected there. Yeah, Lord forbid we allow any dissenting views. Let’s blindly believe the same government that is telling us that killing an innocent life inside the mother’s womb is health care…
“… and what waiting caused in New York.”
Cuomo did not wait. He forced hospitals to discharge recovering elderly coronavirus patients AND forced nursing homes to accept them. That is what precipitated the slaughter of the elderly in New York. Sadly, he will not be punished, or even scolded by fellow government officials for this action…and you would like us to blindly believe them all and stifle any and all dissent. Really wise advice, sister..
First we have a book supposedly coauthored by the Pope Emeritus, followed by a retraction, that, no, he didn’t really want his name on it. Now we have this. I don’t know who or what to believe any more except Jesus Christ.
The letter was very well done however it’s a little too late and a lot of damage has been done not only in the church but in the economic world of America and throughout the world. People are never going to go back to church it wasn’t that many that were going anywa. Do you think they’re going to now go and be obedient and listen to priests and Bishops and Cardinals. The Shepherds abandon us completely. Everything in that letter was so true One World Government I went to the stores today and the small Mama pops can only sell a portion of the items in the store they’re told not to sell other items meanwhile you can go to Walmart and the public company stores and they can sell everything is something wrong with that something make majorly wrong and if the Catholic World can’t see that it’s truly sad. Why more isn’t being written about it with all the magazines and why people are not in an uproar is totally shocking to me so thank God for that letter Cardinal Sarah I can’t say it in this article but he needs to have some guts. He probably was involved and then backehed off at the end and that’s not fair they wouldn’t have included him if he wasn’t involved so he was involved and then he just backed off in the end and let’s hope and pray that this letter will do something
Archbishop Carlo Vigano, a very experienced diplomat, would very unlikely pen a name to a petition without the certainty that he had the signatory’s approval. Penning an unauthorised name would surely undermine the credibility of the project. It is unlikely that any of the signatories actually signed – but gave their consent to the inclusion of their names. From Archbishop Vigano’s latest statement it is obvious that Card Sarah gave his conscent to the inclusion of his name – and then, for obvious reasons, decided to withdraw his consent after the Petition had gone to press. If Archbishop Vigano has recorded proof that Card Sarah gave his consent then it is Card Sarah’s credibility that is at stake here. Should he then be believed when he says that Pope Emeritus Benedict had full knowledge of his intention to produce a book on Priestly celibacy that would be co-authored by Benedict and Sarah. This is a tragedy for Cardinal Sarah.
What I am not seeing is any reference anywhere to priests ministering to those afflicted or dying in hospitals, etc. This is hardly the Black Death, during which the clergy often ministered to the afflicted with considerable heroism. How has the current “crisis” been dealt with by the clergy? Simply put: is anyone here getting the Last Rites?
Yes JoAnn most US dioceses are providing Last Rites in given situations, and confessions usually by request following CDC protocol. The New York Archdiocese has organized teams of younger priests to anoint the sick and dying following CDC, hospital protocol. In the W New York State Diocese where I am the Ordinary made priests available for confessions per request following protocol and anointing in emergency situations. Although to your point some bishops are fearful of losing priests and have withheld these permissions. I’m confidant that we will return to full ministerial availability soon. And yes I agree we should be more courageous. Although unlike the era of Black Death plagues in Europe today the number of priests is very much smaller, are mostly elderly and many have underlying conditions. That’s the major consideration bishops have for their cautious policies.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò possesses an heroic needed legacy that by all indication exposed Vatican corruption in dealing with entrenched clerical homosexuality, the great ecclesial moral sickness. Since, perhaps under extreme prolonged duress, Papal messaging manipulation, counter charges his thought seems affected. First he hailed the Coronavirus Pandemic as a Godsend that would expectedly destroy Globalism. Now he’s ‘alerting’ the world and Church of ascendancy of a possible Global government. Cardinal Sarah’s apparent withdrawal of support of the letter ‘apparently’ authored by the Archbishop makes both appear ineptly comical while the Pontiff pictured solemnly alone in prayerful Rome pilgrimages makes appropriate pious recommendations [confession, rosary etc] presenting the more reasoned, spiritual image. Better that the Cardinal and Archbishop stick to their rightful doctrinal concerns. Although [now I’ll don my dime store prophesy biretta, although Autom prices them at $169. 99] could economic giant ruthlessly communist China Great Dragon symbol and all be poised to seize the opportunity? Suddenly the world’s material medical benefactor gracefully lifting nations brought to their knees by the Pandemic. Suddenly almost by devious magic producing a vaccine. Could the inscrutable Giant of the East be the Apocalyptic Beast that was mortally wounded but recovers to the hurrahs of a desperate globe in which only card bearing Party members will be fed by new Party members Amazon and Walmart? Okay I’ll stop right here lest I appear rather comic and absurd. Although absurd, interesting?
Can’t help but notice, though, that the dragon has at least two heads. Or maybe it’s just the awkward posture as to where the dragon chooses to place it head–like the Mayan snake (of circular rationalism) that swallows its own tail.
The conversation has shifted…the incoherence is whether we can walk and chew gum at the same time, or whether we can weigh the statistics of the pandemic and the statistics of the collapsed economy, both at the same time.
But in both cases, the premise is that of being data-driven. So, what’s totally missing from this mental landscape? Benedict speaks to this reductionism of reason into, in this case, competing rationalisms:
“They [the roots of a correctly engineered society] lie in the one-sidedness of the modern concept of reason, as it was first explicitly formulated by Francis Bacon and then in the nineteenth century became increasingly predominant. Only quantitative reason, the reason of calculation and experimentation [data-driven], is considered to be reason at all; everything else is nonrational and must gradually be overcome and likewise brought into the realm of ‘exact’ knowledge”(Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism & Politics, Ignatius, 2008).
Quantified consequentialism and proportionalism? Where, in any case, is to be found the irreducible and true reasoning of St. Pope John Paul II and Veritatis Splendor?
A correct assessment of our quandary. In instances when we have two competing exigencies both dependent on statistical data and projected outcome a mean is the aim for resolution. Our Administration largely based on Pres Trump’s initiative to open the economy and the med team advising it be in phases is good. The unpredictable variable is deaths. Why models continue to change with transient conditions. Although the model gives us a reasonable target. Medical propriety insists on virtual elimination of risk the Administration focused on the economy willing to take the risk. As in unpredictable medical scenarios the arrival at what Aquinas termed the ‘virtuous mean’ between excess and defect is a workable perhaps the best measure. Either course as is now known will result in deaths the former suicides, overdoses, emotional incapacity the latter death due to the virus. Either way the virus is the underlying direct or remote cause of death. A proportionate [as distinguished from an evil end justified by a proportionate good] good effect and death ratio would be ethically amenable. The death of a nation due to economic collapse and lingering disease is not an option. Risk must be taken to open the economy the phased CDC plan appears to have struck that virtuous mean with Administration input at least theoretically. Reason apparently has succeeded here despite Democrat wails of impending disaster insisting on indeterminable lockdown. Much depends on leadership both executive and state in determining the process. The rest as General Lee said before engaging Meade at Gettysburg is in God’s hands. Let’s hope divine favor here will rest as it apparently did with Maj General George Meade. Insofar as our Church crisis so much depends on spiritual integrity rather that predicting outcomes.