VALENCIA, Spain (ChurchMilitant.com) - Spanish authorities are investigating Cdl. Antonio Cañizares for opening the doors of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Forsaken and displaying an image of the Virgin for the faithful.
The action brought various Catholics to the front doors, violating social distancing guidelines, which in turn brought charges from social media and an investigation of the cardinal for encouraging the gathering.
Following Mass on Sunday when the image was displayed, unknown informants contacted civil authorities claiming the image of Mary left the church, but a one-minute Tweeted video corroborates the archdiocese's claim that the image remained in the church's open doors, facing the city's Plaza de la Virgen, but never left the church.
A tweet by Alfons Lopez Tena said: "Spreading coronavirus in València — Catholic cardinal-archbishop Cañizares, a reckless murderer of Valencians, breaks the law to display a religious parade among his herd of willing murderers. Police begs them to social distancing at least, to no avail."
Spreading coronavirus in València — Catholic cardinal-archbishop Cañizares, a reckless murderer of Valencians, breaks the law to display a religious parade among his herd of willing murderers. Police begs them to social distancing at least, to no avail pic.twitter.com/fhCESEcwQr— Alfons López Tena (@alfonslopeztena) May 10, 2020
The video captures the crowd's enthusiastic shouting and clapping, while in the background church bells are clanging in the public square. It also includes the sound of a megaphoned police officer asking members of the crowd to keep the proper distance from one another. The video shows that people were wearing masks and complying with the social distancing instruction.
According to Crux, at no point were people warned that they were breaking the law.
It has been the custom in the archdiocese to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Forsaken every second Sunday in May by processing an image of the Virgin from the basilica to St. Catherine's Cathedral, about 200 yards away. That is potentially why people were gathered in the square outside the basilica last Sunday.
Cañizares, archbishop of the Valencia diocese, made news on April 29 when he wrote a pastoral letter urging Catholics to comply with government regulations related to the virus pandemic. His letter was in response to a video message from Spanish Catholics asking their bishops to "give us back the Mass."
His lengthy pastoral letter told the Catholics in his care that "although we [Christians] are not of this world, we are in the world and we must help in what is just and in the common good; we must help governments and representatives of authority and pray for them."
In even stronger language, the cardinal now under investigation told Valencian Catholics, "Don't listen to orchestrated campaigns, which are ... sending messages that are in some way reproachful or demanding of the hierarchy of the Church and that instead of opening pathways, close them."
The letter did encourage Catholics to join in the celebration for Our Lady of the Forsaken by watching the Mass from their homes.
Authorities are claiming this invitation led to the gathering outside the basilica on Sunday and that is the basis for their complaint against Cdl. Cañizares.
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