ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - A leading traditionalist cardinal is calling upon Catholics to reflect upon the coronavirus calamity in the light of society's rebellion against God and "even within the Church, a paganism which worships nature and the earth."
"There are those within the Church who refer to the earth as our mother, as if we came from the earth, and the earth is our salvation," laments Cdl. Raymond Burke, alluding to the veneration of Pachamama in the Vatican during the October Amazon Synod.
Society is not merely "indifferent" to God, but "openly rebellious" toward Him and the created order, writes Burke, citing commonplace violence, "attacks on the innocent and defenseless unborn," and "on those who are heavily burdened with serious illness, advanced years, or special needs."
Burke elaborates: "We need only to think of the pervasive attack upon the integrity of human sexuality, of our identity as man or woman, with the pretense of defining for ourselves, often employing violent means, a sexual identity other than that given to us by God."
"Oftentimes, when we find ourselves in great suffering and even facing death, we ask: 'Where is God?' But the real question is: 'Where are we?'"
A source from Northern Italy told Church Militant that Cdl. Burke's comments asking Catholics to reflect on the correlation between the veneration of Pachamama and the coronavirus was entirely justified.
Last fall, the diocese of Bergamo — now the epicenter of the epidemic — published a prayer to Pachamama on its website: "Pachamama of these places, drink and eat this offering, so that this land is fruitful. Pachamama, good Mother, be generous!" So far, the highest number of priests to fatally succumb to the epidemic are from Bergamo, the source added.
Burke, former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, insists that while taking the most meticulous precautions, Catholics must not be denied access to Mass and the sacraments during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bemoaning the tendency "in our totally secularized culture" to view worship as similar to other non-essential activities like cinema or sport and therefore amenable to cancelation, Burke emphasizes that essential need of "prayer, devotions and worship, above all, confession and the Holy Mass" for us "to remain healthy and strong spiritually, and for us to seek God's help in a time of great danger for all."
"Therefore, we cannot simply accept the determinations of secular governments, which would treat the worship of God in the same manner as going to a restaurant or to an athletic contest," he warns, explaining: "Otherwise, the people who already suffer so much from the results of the pestilence are deprived of those objective encounters with God who is in our midst to restore health and peace."
After all, the state allows people to visit the supermarket and the pharmacy while observing the precautions of social distancing and the use of disinfectants, Burke reasons, acknowledging that "it is a fundamental act of charity to use every prudent means to avoid contracting or spreading the coronavirus."
Just as we are able to purchase food and medicine, while taking care not to spread the coronavirus in the process, so also we must be able to pray in our churches and chapels, receive the sacraments, and engage in acts of public prayer and devotion, so that we know God's closeness to us and remain close to Him, fittingly calling upon His help. Without the help of God, we are indeed lost.
"Many of our churches and chapels are very large. They permit a group of the faithful to gather for prayer and worship without violating the requirements of 'social distance,'" the cardinal observes. Similarly, the screened confessional can be easily equipped with a thin veil treated with disinfectant.
Burke's bold suggestion for the offering of votive Masses as done "historically, in times of pestilence" — specifically the Mass for "Deliverance from Death in Time of Pestilence" in the 1962 Roman Missal — is likely to be received with hostility in progressive liturgical circles.
The original form of this Mass was composed and used during the Black Plague in the mid-14th century. Known as the "Recordare domine testamenti" [Remember, Lord, thy covenant] Mass, it was created at the behest of Clement VI at Avignon.
The introit reads: "Remember, Lord, thy covenant, and tell the angel striking, 'Now stop thy hand, and let not the land be desolated, and do not destroy every living soul.'"
The first prayer alludes to God's words in Ezekiel: "God, you who desire not the death but the penance of sinners." The first lesson from 2 Kings 24: 15–25 begins: "In those days God sent a pestilence into Israel." The lesson from Luke 4: 38–44 is about Jesus healing Simon Peter's mother-in-law.
"From beginning to end, this Mass directly concerns the plague, sent by the hand of God as once before upon Israel," writes liturgical scholar William Paden. The votive Mass for plagues does not exist in the Vatican II Roman Missal.