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Coronavirus and the Catholic Church

Source: Fr. Hugh Barbour, O. Praem, Catholic Answers at catholic.com
Republished with permission.

Fr. Hugh Barbour, O. Praem

Anxiety blossoms as the most recent coronavirus appears, though in low numbers, in the United States. People wonder if they should stop receiving the Eucharist on the tongue, others if they should receive at all. Fr. Hugh Barbour and Cy Kellett discuss the truth of the Eucharist and what to keep in mind through this period of uncertainty- a God who loves us and makes Himself available to us in the Eucharist.

Cy Kellett:
Coronavirus and the Eucharist. Next with Father Hugh Barbour.

Cy Kellett:
Hello and welcome again to Catholic Answers Focus. I am Cy Kellett, your host. And our guest this episode is Father Hugh Barbour. Hello Father.

Fr. Hugh:
Hello. Hello.

Cy Kellett:
Father, we’re taking this, the occasion of the coronavirus and the various instructions that bishops are giving in regard to the coronavirus and reception of the Eucharist as an opportunity to talk about the Eucharist, to talk about what the Eucharist is and what the Eucharist is not. And Father, I’ll begin with a letter that we got, all right? Because your presence is somewhat in response to this letter. We have a woman who’s outraged at an answer that she heard on Catholic Answers Live, because a caller called and said, “Is it really possible that the Eucharist could transfer disease?” Or that “reception of the Eucharist could transfer disease,” to which the person who was answering the question said “yes” and gave an extended explanation of how that could happen.

And this woman says that we are “utterly faithless to give an answer like that. The precious body and blood of our Lord only heals, and the only ones it could harm are those who receive him unworthily.” And she asked that we get a good priest on or someone with some faith to straighten us out.

So we got a good priest on and a person of faith, in you. So thank you for being here to do that, Father. So is it outrageous to say that, as the bishops in many places and in our own diocese included here in San Diego are saying, “Look, there’s a possibility of transmission here. Let’s take certain steps to minimize that possibility.”

Or should we just go at this with faith and say, “No way that I’m going to get a disease from receiving the Eucharist”?

Fr. Hugh:
Well those are two positions which could both be extreme in the sense that maybe we don’t need to do anything. That’s possible. But it appears in the minds of those who have the authority to judge, that we should do something. And so we should follow their directions because someone has to be in charge.

Fr. Hugh:
But on the other hand we have to evaluate the question in a Catholic way. And part of this lady’s reaction is due to a misunderstanding about the nature of the sacrament. Because a sacrament is a sign of a grace that’s given to us inwardly. It’s a visible, sensible sign of an inward grace. So the appearances of bread are the sign of the body of Christ and they convey, in the context of that sign, the very body of Christ.

So if you ask the question, “If you hug and kiss Jesus Christ, is he going to give you a disease?” Well, it’s pretty easy to answer that. No. But the sacrament is the outward sign, the accidents of bread, that are not identical with Jesus Christ, that the sign of his presence, they indicate to us where he is or where we can have access to his bodily grace. But they’re subject to all the rules of nature that pertain to the appearances or physical qualities of things. And so, the very fact that when you receive the host, it doesn’t just magically disappear, but it actually corrupts in your stomach. And it’s the point at which you’ve consumed the host and it’s no longer recognizable as bread that there’s no more real presence. And so, that’s the other side. You could say, “Can the host get sick and disappear?” Yes. As a sign-

Cy Kellett:
Oh, I see.

Fr. Hugh:
… it can go away to the influence of your digestive system-

Cy Kellett:
Oh, which actually-

Fr. Hugh:
… so it’s no longer-

Cy Kellett:
Oh which actually can’t happen to Christ’s body who’s incorruptible.

Fr. Hugh:
Right. Which is incorruptible.

Cy Kellett:
Oh I see. That’s an interesting point.

Fr. Hugh:
And so the point is, of course the body of Christ in its natural reality cannot be the source of evil for anyone. But the outward sign whereby that body is conveyed to us in the sacrament is still in this world, we’re not in heaven yet, subject to the laws of nature insofar as they’re still operative. And they are in the case of the Eucharist, because if you were to, God forbid, if you were to drop the host, it would obey the laws of gravity and fall on the floor. You might as well say, “Well God would never allow the body of Christ to fall on the floor.” Or-

Cy Kellett:
We’ve all seen that he does.

Fr. Hugh:
… “Mary would never let the baby Jesus fall.” Well, maybe she wouldn’t have, but the sacrament is subject to those things. That’s why we’re trained to treat the sacrament with extreme reverence and care, because it can be broken up and destroyed as a sacrament. And the same, it goes, it’s subject to all those laws. So yes, if you put… The popes for example… This is probably the proof that might be particularly interesting. At the papal mass in the old days, the right of papal mass included having more than one chalice. And the chalice was, the hosts that were used at the mass were, they would put three out and the sub-deacon or someone would wipe the host around the inside of the chalice and then select one, and then eat it before it was consecrated.

And so that was in order to protect against poisoning, if someone was trying to poison the pope. And this is the age of faith, that the pope could be poisoned if someone put poison on the host.

Cy Kellett:
Because it wouldn’t make-

Fr. Hugh:
It wouldn’t make the poison go away. The poison is one thing and the appearances of bread are something else. The microbe that has the disease that’s on the host is something different from the host itself. I mean we’re talking about reality here, right? And so the risen glorious body of Christ is not capable of giving anybody an infection because it’s just a source of good. But the outward sign, which is for us now, but which also passes away could be subject to those things. And that’s why they even had that practice at the papal mass. They checked, like all sovereigns in the old days and even probably even now, presidents and whatnot, they probably have testers in the kitchen to make sure that things aren’t poisoned. And they have to be very courageous.

Cy Kellett:
But you don’t, you don’t have a tester?

Fr. Hugh:
No, I don’t. I don’t. No. I would assume that no one’s trying to kill me.

Cy Kellett:
I’d be happy to be your tester though. I’d be happy to taste all your food before you get it.

Okay, so the-

Fr. Hugh:
But there’s an example. It’s just that… For example, there’s a case, they played it all over the Islamic world as an anti-Christian thing. An Orthodox child was baptized and they were baptized by immersion, and the child drowned. Now, you could say that’s impossible-

Cy Kellett:
You’d say that’s impossible.

Fr. Hugh:
… that that would happen. God would stop that because it’s a sacrament. No, sacramental signs have their own natural realities. And so whenever they’re susceptible of, or accomplishing just as a sign, they can still do.

Cy Kellett:
I think Flannery O’Connor might have a story where someone has drowned during baptism, but I might be confused on that.

Fr. Hugh:
It might be but it was a very, it’s a horrible thing, but in the Muslim world, they showed it everywhere to show what a-

Cy Kellett:
That this is-

Fr. Hugh:
… that Christianity is wrong.

Cy Kellett:
And that’s the thing is, I think that we also, in addition to this woman being outraged, we get the other side of the thing which is… Well, we get this skeptic who makes fun of Catholics for, “Well, if you believe that that’s God, then you would have total faith and you wouldn’t worry at all about the transmission of disease.”

Fr. Hugh:
No.

Cy Kellett:
That person also needs to be addressed.

Fr. Hugh:
They can set up their own rules about how we live our faith if they want to, but it’s not the way we… Like the priest washes his hands ritually at the mass twice, traditionally before mass begins, during the mass and then after mass. What’s that about? Why does he wash his hands after mass, in the traditional right? These are observances and they’re not based upon somebody else deciding that, “If you believe that, then why would you do this?”

Well, because it’s a human custom that when you handle food, you have clean hands and when you’re finished handling it, you also wash your hands again. And that’s what our Lord instituted the sacrament under the sign of food, not anything else. And so the bread could be crumbly. The wine could require you… It even says the priest is supposed to wipe his mouth with a purificator at mass. It doesn’t miraculously just disappear from his lips. And you have to wash the purificators carefully because some of the fresh blood might’ve gotten on them. I mean, we’re not talking about magic here.

Cy Kellett:
That’s the thing. So, a skeptic will say, “Yes you are talking about magic.”

Fr. Hugh:
No.

Cy Kellett:
“You think God magically appears.” So give me the distinction between a sacrament and magic.

Fr. Hugh:
Well, magic we could say is an attempt to, sometimes successful, an attempt to control physical events by using physical things, but in a way which is to the observer disproportionate between the cause and the effect. Like you wave a wand and someone disappears. Well that’s disproportionate-

Cy Kellett:
Yeah waving a wand doesn’t physically cause that, right.

Fr. Hugh:
… because a wand would make… That’s right. But if it did, that would be in the category of magic. But in any case, it means that there’s a disproportion between the cause and the effect, but it’s always in the physical realm of things. Whereas the sacrament is instituted by Christ himself who is God, who has complete charge of the laws of the universe to use a material thing as the instrument whereby a spiritual thing is conveyed to someone. It’s given to someone.

Now that’s perfectly within God’s power because after all, our human nature is a physical material body that has as its form and its life and existence, a spiritual soul. And when I’m speaking these words to you and to anyone else who’s listening, they’re coming out of a physical body and you’re hearing with your physical ears, and the words are signs of what I mean to convey to you. They’re symbols of what I’m thinking. And yet somehow you’re able to receive them physically and then have a spiritual effect because you understand what I’m saying. The understanding is not just a physical sound. A dog sitting in the room does not understand what I’m saying. Some cats might, but-

Cy Kellett:
The whole-

Fr. Hugh:
… that’s a different question.

Cy Kellett:
That is [crosstalk 00:11:03].

Fr. Hugh:
You can talk to the witches about that. I’m just joking. It’s a joke, joke, joke, joke, joke, joke. But-

Cy Kellett:
You’re afraid the same woman’s going to write a letter about you now.

Fr. Hugh:
Right, right.

Cy Kellett:
But okay, so it sounds to me like the opposite of magic then. You’re not adding something to cause a physical effect. You’re using the physical world-

Fr. Hugh:
To cause a spiritual effect, and that is something which God can do according to the limits of being. He can do all kinds of things. But which we can do according to the limits of our nature. When I speak to you using human words, which are audible and produced by a physical mechanism, or physical organ is a better word, not mechanism, an organ. That has in you who understands the English language a spiritual effect because understanding what I’m saying is not-

Cy Kellett:
Physical.

Fr. Hugh:
… a bodily thing. It’s a physical thing.

Cy Kellett:
No, it’s not a… But understanding is what, physical or spiritual?

Fr. Hugh:
It’s a spiritual thing.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah that’s what I thought.

Fr. Hugh:
Yes, a spiritual thing, even though the way it’s conveyed is bodily. And so that’s the way it is with all the sacraments. You have a physical thing which symbolizes the grace to be conferred on the recipient, and then that grace is conferred when the physical reality is applied to the recipient. But in this case, God establishes them as means of giving spiritual graces that human beings are not capable of bestowing on each other. Like we cannot forgive sins. No one forgives sins but God alone. That’s what they object into our Lord. But of course he could forgive sin so he did. And so that’s why he says-

Cy Kellett:
But they weren’t wrong about that. God alone-

Fr. Hugh:
God alone. And to give new life, to raise us from a state of original sin and from being the possession of the devil, to being sons and daughters of God by grace, that’s all something only God can do. But he does it by means of water and the word. That’s what we’re taught in the sacrament of baptism. Same with confirmation. Same with marriage. All of the sacraments have visible signs of invisible graces.

Cy Kellett:
So if I go back to our dear interlocutor, she says that the Eucharist can heal us. Is that true? That the Eucharist has healing power or the power to heal?

Fr. Hugh:
Certainly, but that’s of course all in terms of the providence of God. The Eucharist strengthens the soul. It gives us spiritual healing. It doesn’t necessarily guarantee physical healing. It can be the occasion of physical healing and God does heal people to the Eucharist. I mean at Lourdes for example, in France, the majority of the miraculous cures occur not in connection with the waters but in connection with the Eucharistic procession. So that makes perfect sense. And of course they have also closed down the baths at Lourdes so but-

Cy Kellett:
Oh because of coronavirus?

Fr. Hugh:
So at least they can have the… I mean that shows how-

Cy Kellett:
And you’ll be getting a letter from somebody.

Fr. Hugh:
Yeah but I mean, to me, I mean frankly that all seems quite exaggerated to me. But it’s not heresy. Because they’ve already, they’ve tested the water at Lourdes. They’ll even tell you proudly that of all the horrible microbes that are in the water, because they change it once a day and all those people are going in it. It comes from the stream but it’s put in these basins so it’s a question of faith. At Lourdes it’s your faith has healed you. And we have to have faith in our Lord working through material signs.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah. Okay. And it does seem that she’s right, if we take scripture seriously, that especially Saint Paul, that it’s harmful to us to receive him unworthily.

Fr. Hugh:
Yes, and God punishes sometimes people, he says sometimes physically even for unworthy perception. He says, “Some of you have died or are sick because you don’t respect the whole Eucharist.” So that’s a very important aspect. But that’s in order to correct them so that they will treat the Eucharist rightly. And the Lord doesn’t use it as a, he doesn’t work evil to the Eucharist, but he may correct us and the effect of our communion may be close to a union with him, but it also might be an experience of being aware that we’re sinners and that we need to correct our life as well, if we receive unworthily.

Cy Kellett:
All right. I know you have more to share with me about, not epidemics, plagues-

Fr. Hugh:
Plagues.

Cy Kellett:
… and the Eucharist.

Fr. Hugh:
Pests.

Cy Kellett:
Yes. Right. You preach-

Fr. Hugh:
“La peste,” they say in Italian. La peste.

Cy Kellett:
Well, they’re saying that a lot in Italian right now.

Fr. Hugh:
It’s, “Don’t be a pest.”

Cy Kellett:
Yeah. Okay. So give me give me some history of plagues and the Eucharist and-

Fr. Hugh:
Well, there’s a lot of drama right now about, especially in Italy where they’ve locked down the whole country, about the prohibition of people gathering for mass or for other religious ceremonies. The churches are open, but you’re not supposed to gather for a service. That’s at least what I’ve been told. At some churches that have too many people coming, they’re actually closed.

But what we need to understand is that this is not a new thing. It may be under current circumstances a bit extreme. But if you project things back before the discovery of microbes, so people didn’t know about washing their hands. Or before the discovery of vaccines, the people didn’t know how to prevent diseases effectively. And then more before the discovery of antibiotics. In that time then very ordinary diseases were lethal to a degree that we don’t understand.

The big flu epidemic of 1918 is probably the most recent example of worldwide, just wiped out all kinds of people. And even now flu is a-

Cy Kellett:
In the millions. Certainly, in the tens of millions.

Fr. Hugh:
In the millions yeah. And right now the flu is still is the biggest killer as far as, they commonly track the diseases that are contracted by human contact or presence.

And so in that context then it was a concern how to deal with that in terms of the need for the faithful who are sick to receive the sacraments. And so there are all these discussions. I have Saint Alphonsus’s Moral Theology here. This is just one volume. This is just one volume. There are like four or five. Actually four or five tomes. But the volumes are actually contained in the tomes. So, where he deals with every conceivable question of moral theology. And it is the most authoritative moral theology written in the history of the church.

And he gives a long discussion about which priests are obliged to administer the sacraments and to whom in the case of a plague. Now this meant… It came up back then. But remember back then it was almost certain that if you caught it, you were going to die. Remember, they had within, not living memory, but much more close memory, the Black Death that wiped out at least, almost half of Europe’s population.

Cy Kellett:
Especially southern Europe-

Fr. Hugh:
Yes.

Cy Kellett:
… where it was warm.

Fr. Hugh:
It wiped out so many people. Well even in the north too, there was a lot of people dying of it.

Cy Kellett:
And this was in the 1400s.

Fr. Hugh:
Yeah, yeah. Devastating whole monasteries. They’d be thriving and open one week and two weeks later everyone’s dead. And so it’s a pretty dramatic situation. And so they knew the effects of plagues and so it wasn’t exactly strange that someone might want to avoid getting it.

On the other hand, priests are obliged to serve the faithful in view of their eternal salvation, generously, and not leave them without the comforts and the aides of the faith at the moment of death. That’s the most important thing. People used to wear, maybe they still do, those little medals that’ll say, “I’m a Catholic. In case of emergency call a priest.” You want a priest there if you’re dying.

So they’d have these discussions about that whole question. And Saint Charles Borromeo, the great Archbishop of Milan in the 16th century, the 1500s that is, he even was so frustrated at how reserved some priests were about serving the sick that he wrote the pope for a clarification. Well, the pope didn’t exactly take his side. He said, “Well baptism and confession are the absolutely necessary things. If you’re not baptized, you need to be baptized. And if your in a state of grave sin and you’re dying, you really need to get sacramental absolution.”

Cy Kellett:
And so priests were obligated.

Fr. Hugh:
And that’s super obligatory. But distributing communion was relatively so, and it’s necessary for the spiritual strength of the soul, and it should be administered to people that legitimately ask for it. But if someone is in the midst of a blazing fever and is very, very contagious, that may not be a legitimate request because they can go to communion after they get better.

And that’s why the pope was not willing to just say, “No, parish priests just must always answer all requests.” And that sounds very unsatisfying to us because what happens is in the general observance of things, there is such a thing as heroism. And Saint Charles Borromeo as Archbishop of Milan showed that. He himself went out as an example to his priest, went among the crowds that were dying on the streets and absolved them and gave them extreme unction, the anointing of the sick, and gave them holy communion without any fear of catching the disease, or if he had the fear, he didn’t show it.

Cy Kellett:
Which really, I just want to reemphasize this. In those days, totally different from now.

Fr. Hugh:
Totally different.

Cy Kellett:
Every time he did that-

Fr. Hugh:
He was exposing himself to-

Cy Kellett:
To death.

Fr. Hugh:
… if he would catch the disease, he would certainly die. And for example, Saint Aloysius, the great Jesuit saint, how did he die? He was a young man. Because he volunteered to take care of people during the plague. And so he took care of them in the hospital there in Rome, right by the forum, and he died of the plague. A lot of people did. Saint Francis of Rome whose feast day was yesterday, she employed a priest… She took care of the sick all over in different hospitals in Rome that are still there. Not so much as hospitals but more like monuments. One is a hospital, the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, which is right by Saint Peter’s. You would think that would be a name that would inspire confidence but you know, [crosstalk 00:21:12]. Hospital of the Holy Spirit.

The hospitals were also the hostels for pilgrims who often brought diseases and they were sick and so on and so forth. So there’s Saint Cecilia and the German cemetery and hospital, they’re right next to each other very appropriately, to remind people. Because back then, people knew that sickness meant death. We think sickness means you’re going to get well, but it’s going to be inconvenient. And only by misfortune-

Cy Kellett:
They were terrified of fevers and-

Fr. Hugh:
Right. All this sort of stuff.

Cy Kellett:
… because you might not make it. You very-well might not make it.

Fr. Hugh:
So she employed a priest at her own expense to make sure that she could always get the sacraments to the people she was taking care of. But she had to find a priest and pay him. Because during those times of plague some priests would just hide out.

Cy Kellett:
I’m not here!

Fr. Hugh:
That’s right. No, it’s-

Cy Kellett:
Row out to an island.

Fr. Hugh:
… sad to consider. And that’s why it’s important to pray for the clergy because what a burden to take upon yourself to judgment that no I can’t help these people. But on the other hand, the practice pointed out, and even Saint Charles Borromeo saw that, that in all the parishes, if they’re going out among the very, very sick, some of the priests should stay in and not be exposed, so then those who are well are not afraid to go to them because they don’t want to, if they’ve been exposed.

Cy Kellett:
Right. So you’ve got to have some priests that are not-

Fr. Hugh:
Not going out.

Cy Kellett:
… not exposing… Even if there are heroic priests, there’s got to be some-

Fr. Hugh:
Who are not going out because they need to take care of the well and not frighten them from coming.

But in any case, it’s an interesting question. It’s been there for a long time. And it’s not the most edifying question. The idea would be that no priest would have any fear at all to take care of someone who was in grave danger of dying because of sickness. But they saw it very practically. If the person is a regular communicant and goes to confession and is living in the state of grace and they’re going to die of a very contagious disease, the priest may not be obliged to see him or her. But on the other hand, if this is someone who’s not regularly receiving the sacraments and may-well be not in the state of grace and needs the sacraments before death, then the priest has a proportionately greater obligation to go. So it’s not every single request.

Nowadays, again, I think that’s a moot point. And I think priests can be very, very generous because it’s not like it was back then. It just isn’t. But no one yet has said that priests may not bring communion or sacraments to sick people. No one is even thinking of that. But why it’s brought up here is just that it shows that this kind of problem has existed forever, so if people want to be really super critical of the pope or the Holy See or the Diocese of Rome or whatnot for allowing the churches to be closed, it’s not the first time these kinds of things happened in history. And even in the great ages of faith, with the Council of Trent and so on. But Saint Charles Borromeo wasn’t particularly happy with this answer either.

Cy Kellett:
Saints are often dissatisfied.

Fr. Hugh:
Now they’re getting a little more zealous and the pope has to think of the common good. Yeah.

Cy Kellett:
Right, right. Indeed. And so there is frustration with bishops right now. I don’t like to engage in very much criticism of bishops because every diocese is different. And there’s also going to be good priests, bad priests, good bishops, bad bishops. I don’t want anybody criticizing me as a father, and I am open to plenty of it. But there’s no harm in obeying your bishop?

Fr. Hugh:
No. When it’s licit. I think we can lament the fact that if you forbid communion on the tongue, it might perpetually associate communion on the tongue with bad hygiene in people’s minds after it’s all over.

Cy Kellett:
Right. I hadn’t thought about that. Yeah.

Fr. Hugh:
And actually it’s a moot point. Which one is more dangerous, in the hand or on the tongue? It depends upon how you do it and how much contact you have or whether the person’s… So, it really doesn’t make that much difference in the long run probably in terms of transmission of disease. So you’re free to hold it as an overreaction, but just do as he asks because… And if you’re attending mass in a right which doesn’t offer that as an option, I’m sure that it’s all going to be okay. You’re not going to be driven away from the altar because you receive it on the tongue. I can’t imagine.

But these are these situations that we’re in right now that we need to be moderate and careful in our judgements in all of these things, even though we might find the whole atmosphere a bit frustrating.

Cy Kellett:
Father Hugh Barbour, thank you very much.

Fr. Hugh:
Okay.

Cy Kellett:
Father Hugh Barbour, a Norbertine priest, former prior of St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange County. You should look them up on the web. They’re building an amazing new abbey church.

I am Cy Kellett, your host. Thank you very much for joining us from quarantine or wherever quarantine is. I shouldn’t joke.

Fr. Hugh:
You know what the quarantine comes from?

Cy Kellett:
What?

Fr. Hugh:
Quarantine means 40 days. It comes from Lent.

Cy Kellett:
Oh, so we’re all in quarantine right now!

Fr. Hugh:
We’re in quarantine during Lent. We’re all in quarantine because we’re eating special food or… Quarantine, I mean it’s like putting someone aside for 40 days. It was taken from the penitential discipline of the church. For a penance, you’d have 40 days of penance.

Cy Kellett:
Oh, so all right. So that’s not a joke. We are all in quarantine right now.

Fr. Hugh:
Happy Lent. Enjoy your quarantine.

Cy Kellett:
Enjoy the rest of your quarantine.

If you like what you hear on Catholic Answers Focus, would you do us a solid and give us five stars where you get your podcasts so that others will notify-

Fr. Hugh:
That’s, five fingers. One, two, three, four, five.

Cy Kellett:
Five stars. Holding up the five fingers. And also leave a comment perhaps, especially if you get, well actually-

Fr. Hugh:
A sweet comment.

Cy Kellett:
… anywhere, but a nice comment. Especially about Father Hugh Barbour, and especially if you get it at Apple podcast, because that’s where most people get their podcasts and that helps us grow this podcast, which is something we would like to do. Also, let your friends know they can find out all about us at catholicanswersfocus.com. As I said, I am Cy Kellett your host. Our guest has been Father Hugh Barbour, and we’ll see you next time, God willing, right here on Catholic Answers Focus.

Fr. Hugh:
That’s if we’re still alive.

Cy Kellett:
If we’re still alive.

Header images: Swiss Guards by Jon Tyson on unsplash.com Virus by CDC on unsplash.com


External comment
N.B. no direct link available

Via Maggie Gallagher, 19/3/2020

 
“This feels unprecedented, but of course, human beings have had to face far worse epidemics in the past. With courage, compassion, self-sacrifice, we will come together to help, to pray, to mourn if necessary, and to make a difference.
 
St. Charles Borromeo, sainted for his generous and faithful response to the plague of 1576, closed all the churches in Milan. (Consistent with the best medical advice of the time, he built altars in the open air so the faithful could participate in the Mass with reduced risk of infection).  He personally borrowed the equivalent of millions to feed the poor.  He died of an illness at the age of 46.
 
In 1918, during a more comparable epidemic (the Spanish Flu), Archbishop Doughtery of Philadelphia closed all the churches and then offered archdiocesan properties to the city to use as hospitals. 2000 Catholic sisters were the unsung heroes serving the sick. 
 
Faithful, generous, prudent.  As Archbishop Cordileone said that’s what we are called to be right now”. 

External links:

Catholic Comment
‘Let’s Talk about this “Moment of Salvation’ and the difference between HOPE and optimism!’ (Ep 7) HLI Ireland via YouTube

Catholic Comment
‘When the Church Becomes a Social Club, a Virus Shuts It Down’ via fatima.org

Christian Comment
‘7 Lessons from Singapore’s Churches for When the Coronavirus Reaches Yours’ via christianitytoday.com

Christian Comment
COVID-19 is Making This Verse Famous – And Misunderstanding It Can be Deadly via charismanews.org


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