"What is at stake is not only public health but the salvation of souls," said the former apostolic nuncio to the United States in a letter published in LifeSiteNews Saturday.
The archbishop described images of closed churches as "surreal" and "spectral," saying they express "the darkening of the faith that has struck the heights of the Church."
"The Ministers of the Sun, as St. Catherine of Siena was fond of calling [priests], have caused the eclipse," he said, "and delivered the flock to clouds of thick darkness," in a reference to the prophesy of Ezekiel 34:12: "As the shepherd visiteth his flock in the day when he shall be in the midst of his sheep that were scattered, so will I visit my sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day."
Corroborating what many faithful are seeing as a frightening move to establish state control of the Church — particularly in light of this pontificate's directive "to obey the United Nations" — the archbishop declared:
The ecclesial events of these hours have manifested clearly the tragic subjection of the Church to a state that is striving and doing all it can to destroy the Christian identity of our Italy, by enslaving it to an ideological, immoral, globalist, Malthusian, abortionist, migrant agenda that is the enemy of man and of the family.
He added, "The goal of this agenda is the destruction of the Church, and certainly not the good of our country."
On March 12 Vicar General Cdl. Angelo De Donatis blocked the faithful from churches in the diocese of Rome, representing the first time in history that all churches in Rome have been completely closed.
The vicar general said churches were closing "not because the state requires it, but out of a sense of belonging to the human family, exposed to a virus whose nature and propagation we do not yet know."
The prohibition ordered "access to the parochial and non-parochial churches of the diocese of Rome" as well as "religious buildings of any kind" — both normally open to the public by canon law — be "forbidden to all the faithful" until April 3, the Friday before Palm Sunday.
On March 13, however, De Donatis walked back his decree — leading to confusion among the faithful — clarifying that parishes could remain open and leaving "the ultimate responsibility for entry into places of worship on priests and all the faithful, so as not to expose the population to any danger of contagion."
Numerous Italian journalists have spoken out about the Vatican directives, including Riccardo Cascioli, who urges bishops to "take courage and restore Masses with the people" — in obedience to security provisions laid out by the state.
Another journalist, Luisella Scrosati, in her March 13 article "Rome, Churches Closed. They Want to Kill Hope," wrote, "It is not possible to think of going on practically until Easter, or who knows when, in this way, without even taking into account the differences between dioceses and dioceses, between countries and countries."
In "From the Eternal City to the City of Fear," Michael Severance wrote:
Never in my 21 years of living and working in Italy have I seen Rome completely on tilt. Of course, I had plenty of obstacles and demons to face, but I had never witnessed a collective fear that paralyzed the whole city that I call "home." All this for the coronavirus? Not even after the global terrorist threats, triggered since 11 September, or, when in 2008, the financial crisis triggered an Ecoarmageddon, has Rome been totally petrified in this way.
In a first letter issued in 2018, Abp. Viganò blew the whistle on what he called "the corrupt gay mafia" strangling the Church, and accused Pope Francis of rehabilitating serial homosexual predator former Cdl. Theodore McCarrick from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI. He said that "the pope's cover-up of McCarrick was clearly not an isolated mistake," noting that Francis "has defended homosexual clergy who committed serious sexual abuses against minors or adults."
In a letter issued a few months later, the whistleblower prelate made clear that he made such revelations "for the good of the Church," calling it "the most painful and serious decision that I have ever made in my life" and declaring "before God that my testimony is true.”
The archbishop remains in hiding for fear of his life.
At the end of his most recent letter, Abp. Viganò urges priests to:
throw open wide the doors of our churches so that the faithful may enter in, repent of their sins, participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and draw upon the treasury of graces that flow from the pierced Heart of Christ, our only Redeemer who can save us from sin and death.
His admonishment echoes the 1978 inaugural sermon of Pope St. John Paul II, who said, "Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ."