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Catholics launch national open letter urging bishops to restore sacraments, cite religious freedom p

Thursday, April 2, 2020  
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Letter asks bishops to do everything within their power to allow the faithful to receive Sacraments

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A national open letter campaign is launching today to urge all U.S. Bishops to restore the Sacraments to the faithful after the Sacraments were abruptly cut off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Something is terribly wrong with a culture that allows abortion clinics and liquor stores to remain open but shuts down places of worship. While safety and cooperation with civil authorities is necessary, we must do everything we can to have access to what is essential for our spiritual lives. We should certainly not voluntarily deprive ourselves of the sacraments,” reads the opening paragraph of the message to the Bishops, which Catholics can sign online here.

The campaign is spearheaded by Dr. Janet E. Smith, recently retired, who held the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. She is the author of many books and articles on life issues.

“The sacraments are the spiritual ‘Personal Protective Equipment’ of Catholics,” said Smith. “They enable us to work in the field hospital of the sick and dying. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholics are being deprived of what is central to our faith — the sacraments. The sacraments are gifts of inestimable value: They open up for us the gates of Heaven and bestow upon us graces that enable us to be loving disciples of Christ our Savior.”

The open letter comes after a city in Texas was forced to walk back parts of their shelter-in-place order because it infringed on religious liberty rights. It includes practical suggestions on how to implement the restoration of the Sacraments, especially the Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist, while adhering to CDC recommendations on personal protection.

“We hope bishops are pressing governments and hospitals to rescind policies that deny priests access to seriously sick and dying patients,” said Smith. “This is a matter of religious liberty! We should be free to practice our religion.”

To view the open letter and other related statements and prayers, please see https://weareaneasterpeople.com/. The open letter is also written in full below. To schedule an interview with Dr. Janet Smith, please contact Kevin Wandra (404-788-1276 or KWandra@CarmelCommunications.com) of Carmel Communications.  

Text of the message to the Bishops:

Bishops, we, your faithful flock, implore you to do everything you can to make the sacraments more available to us during this crisis. Something is terribly wrong with a culture that allows abortion clinics and liquor stores to remain open but shuts down places of worship. While safety and cooperation with civil authorities is necessary, we must do everything we can to have access to what is essential for our spiritual lives. We should certainly not voluntarily deprive ourselves of the sacraments.

Please, Bishops:

  1. Find ways that you and your priests can provide the Anointing of the Sick, especially to those at risk of dying. Click here for some ideas.
  2. If a state or local government prohibits priests from ministering to the sick in the hospital or in their homes, make a personal and formal request of civic leaders to permit such minister with assurances that all due precautions will be taken. Urge them to recognize religious services as essential services
  3. Demand that civil authorities to recognize religious services as essential services.
  4. Demand civil authorities to permit events such as offering and attending a Mass in a parking lot if they are currently prohibited.
  5. Do everything you can to make possible some form of a public Mass, especially the Easter liturgy, and then encourage pastors to conduct it.
  6. Offer the Mass yourself in public, especially the Easter liturgy.
  7. Do everything you can to find a safe way of distributing the Eucharist, with due precautions.
  8. Do everything you can to enable parish churches and shrines to remain open for prayer and adoration, with due precautions.
  9. Inform your flock of your efforts and the greater availability of the sacraments.

We must use the means Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church have provided us to combat the evils of this world.  The Bishops, our Spiritual Fathers, must take active and public roles in bringing to our wounded world the sacramental graces needed to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

We assure you of our ardent prayers and sacrifices

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