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During plague, Catholic Church called on saints for help, healing

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Catholic Church has had a long tradition of calling on saints and praying for their intercession in sickness and difficult times.

This plea for saintly help for protection from disease and healing was particularly evident when the bubonic plague, or Black Death, spread throughout Europe in the 14th century killing one-third of the population.

At the time, in many cities and villages where medical knowledge was limited, cities and villages often adopted a plague saint to protect them.

In Florence, Italy, the bishop had an altar built in honor of St. Sebastian as a means to stop the Black Death and after the plague was over, he built a church dedicated to the saint in thanksgiving for his intercession.

Artwork depicting the plague shows that St. Sebastian seemed to be the go-to saint at the time.

He was martyred around the year 288 during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian. He was shot by arrows, which is how he is portrayed in paintings where the arrows are also said to be symbolic of the arrows of the Black Death.

But the special appeal of St. Sebastian has a lot of layers. He is said to have converted to Christianity after seeing the bravery of Christian martyrs and he then drew others to become Christian, including a Roman officer who was said to be have been cured of a plague at his conversion.

This particular action caught the attention of Diocletian, who sentenced St. Sebastian to death by arrows. But the saint, according to tradition, is said to have survived the arrows and returned to Diocletian to have strong words with him, which caused the emperor to again, and successfully this time, have St. Sebastian executed.

The saint's prayers for the Roman soldier and the soldier's cure made him associated with the cure of plagues, especially in Italy.

St. Roch also is portrayed in paintings of the plague, but he is shown among victims, often praying to Mary, since he too was a victim of the disease. The same holds true for St. Aloysius Gonzaga, who contracted a different plague, which hit Rome in 1591, and died of it after catching the disease while caring for victims.

There also is a whole group of saints who were called on for prayers during the plague, starting in 1348 in Munich. This group goes by the name the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

The group of 14 -- each with individual feast days and initially one day for the whole group until 1969 -- is honored in a German chapel that is a pilgrimage site. There also are churches in Italy, Austria, Hungary and other European countries named after these 14 and one parish in West Seneca, New York, in the Diocese of Buffalo.

Twelve of this specialized group are martyrs and three are women. Perhaps most known now among the group is St. Blaise, patron saint of throats, who is invoked each Feb. 3 on his feast day, for blessing of the throats.

The names of the other 13 -- and what people pray to them for protection from or intercession for -- follow: St. Achatius, headaches; St. Barbara, fever or sudden death; St. Catherine of Alexandria, sudden death; St. Christopher, plagues, sudden death; St. Cyriacus (Cyriac), temptations; St. Denis (Dionysius), headaches; St. Erasmus (Elmo), abdominal maladies; St. Eustachius (Eustace), family trouble; St. George, protection of domestic animals; St. Giles (Aegidius), plagues, good confession; St. Margaret of Antioch, safe childbirth; St. Pantaleone, physicians; St. Vitus (St. Guy), epilepsy.

Today, Fourteen Holy Helpers Parish in New York, looks, on its website, like most U.S. parishes. There are descriptions of usual activities and events in a nonpandemic time on the site, https://fourteenholyhelpers.org, and at the top of the home page there is an announcement of online Masses, a plea for online giving to the parish and an urge to support local businesses. The full monthly calendar has the word canceled after every previously scheduled church event.

"This period of time when we have been required to cancel public Masses and all parish events and services should certainly be considered one of the most difficult periods in the 156-year history of our parish. Even through this time of decreased activity, a number of expenses continue to be incurred ... utilities, insurance, maintenance, and payrolls to name a few," the parish announcement says.

During this current time of coronavirus pandemic, some have called on St. Corona as a possible patron, but the connection seems to be in name only. A Catholic News Service article about her said little is known about the young woman who was killed for her Christian faith, presumably in the second century A.D.

St. Corona also is not the namesake for the virus. The Latin word "corona" means "crown," an indication that the young saint had achieved the "crown of eternal life" because of the steadfastness of her faith. The connection with the coronaviruses, named because of their crown-like structure, is just a coincidence.

Over the centuries, St. Corona was often prayed to by people seeking her help in times of trouble, be it heavy storms or livestock diseases.

People believed she had a positive influence regarding money matters since "coronae" (crowns) was the name given to coins. As a result, treasure-hunters often invoked her name and in light of how COVID-19 has triggered an economic crisis, she could be called on again.

In the listing of church saints there are at least 100 saints that can be invoked for protection or healing of nearly every possible ailment from eye troubles, headaches and toothaches to cancer, rabies and epilepsy.

When asked about saints that would be good intercessors during this time of the coronavirus pandemic, Jesuit Father James Martin, editor at large at America magazine and author of the 2006 book, "My Life With the Saints," told CNS that three saints he mentions in his book would be good to start with.

At the top of his list is St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the Jesuit saint who died as a result of working with victims of a plague in Rome. The second is St. Therese of Lisieux, "who also had to deal with illness at a young age."

Last on his shortlist is St. Bernadette Soubirous, the visionary of Lourdes, France, who contracted cholera in the epidemic of 1854 and also suffered from asthma and other ailments throughout her life. She is invoked as a patron for the millions who go to Lourdes each year seeking healing.

Father Martin, on a personal note, said that when he was undergoing treatment for a benign tumor and radiation last summer, his own prayers were to St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

 

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Update: CELAM calls for act of consecration to Our Lady of Guadalupe on Easter

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By David Agren

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The Latin American bishops' council announced plans to perform an act of consecration of Latin America and the Caribbean to Our Lady of Guadalupe on Easter, "asking her for health and an end to the pandemic."

The consecration will take place at noon April 12 behind closed doors at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but it will be transmitted digitally.

Cathedrals and parishes throughout the region will participate by ringing their bells 12 times as a call to prayer.

CELAM, as the Latin American and Caribbean bishops' conference is known, said a Mass would be followed by the rosary and act of consecration for an end to COVID-19. The ceremony will include a presentation of a floral wreath in the same place where, in 2016, Pope Francis prayed silently to Our Lady of Guadalupe for the whole world.

"We trust that as we contemplate the mother of the true God, through whom we live, we will strengthen our faith, nourish our hopes and commit ourselves with solidarity and love to those who are experiencing illness, pain, poverty, loneliness, fear and worry," read the statement, signed by Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo, Peru, president of CELAM, and its secretary-general, Auxiliary Bishop Juan Carlos Cardenas Toro of Cali, Colombia.

"This present time demands of us as pastors to see and listen to the afflictions of our peoples, generating hope and turning our sights toward our mother in heaven," the CELAM statement said.

The COVID-19 pandemic reached Latin America and the Caribbean later than other parts of the world but has resulted in a rising number of infections, along with quarantines and closed borders. Churches throughout the region have suspended public celebrations of Mass, along with parish services, although priests and religious are mobilizing responses to the many often-poor communities enduring orders to shelter in place.

Past popes have declared Our Lady of Guadalupe "patroness" and "empress" of the Americas. She also has been turned to in times of pandemic dating back to the 1700s, according to Rodolfo Soriano-Nunez, a sociologist studying the Catholic Church in Mexico.

The consecration, he said, "is a way to renew the relationship (with Our Lady of Guadalupe) and seek her protection. ... It is a way to entrust the continent to the Virgin Mary's protection."

 

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Copyright © 2020 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Pope moves Good Friday collection for Holy Land to September

IMAGE: CNS photo/Ammar Awad, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With Holy Week celebrations closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis postponed the traditional Good Friday collection for the Holy Land to September.

The Vatican announced April 2 that the pope approved a proposal to hold the collection in churches worldwide Sept. 13.

"The Christian communities in the Holy Land, while exposed to the risk of contagion and often living in very trying circumstances, benefit every year from the generous solidarity of the faithful throughout the world, to be able to continue their evangelical presence, as well as to maintain schools and welfare structures open to all citizens for education, peaceful coexistence and care, especially for the smallest and poorest ones," the Vatican said.

The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, an administratively autonomous province of the Franciscan order, uses the collection to carry out its mission of preserving most of the shrines connected with the life of Jesus as well as for providing pastoral care to the region's Catholics, running schools, operating charitable institutions and training future priests and religious.

The collection, taken up at the request of the pope, is administered by the Franciscan Custody and the Congregation for Eastern Churches, which uses it for the formation of candidates for the priesthood, the support of the clergy, educational activities, cultural formation and subsidies.

The Vatican press office released some details March 4 of how the money was used from the 2019 collection, which totaled more than $8.2 million.

The congregation spent more than $3.2 million on academic, spiritual and human formation of seminarians and priests of churches under their jurisdiction as well as men and women religious; more than $3 million went for subsidizing schooling and educational activities for young people, including at Bethlehem University; nearly $2 million was used to provide emergency assistance and support to people in 10 countries.

The Vatican said that the date of the collection, which takes place on the eve of the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, "will be a sign of rediscovered hope and of salvation after the Passion that many people now participate in, as well as solidarity with those who continue to live the Gospel of Jesus in the land where 'it all began.'"

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

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Amid COVID-19 pandemic, pope prays for homeless, cites newspaper photo

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- During his livestreamed daily morning Mass, Pope Francis prayed that the coronavirus pandemic may awaken people's consciences to the plight of homeless men and women suffering in the world.

At the start of the April 2 Mass in the chapel at his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the pope said he was struck by a photo in a local newspaper of "homeless people lying in a parking lot under observation" that "highlight so many hidden problems" in the world.

The picture that Pope Francis apparently referred to was published April 2 by the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero that showed a temporary shelter for the homeless in an outdoor parking lot in Las Vegas.

According to an April 1 report in the New York Times, city officials chose to house the homeless in a parking lot despite that fact that thousands of hotel rooms in Las Vegas are empty.

The shelter was set up due to the temporary closing of a Catholic Charities shelter after a homeless man tested positive for COVID-19. However, city officials said the Catholic Charities shelter is expected to be reopened April 3, The New York Times reported.

"There are so many homeless people today," he said. "We ask St. Teresa of Kolkata to awaken in us a sense of closeness to so many people in society who, in everyday life, live hidden but, like the homeless, in the moment of the crisis, are living in this way."

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's reading from the Book of Genesis and the Gospel of St. John. Both readings focused on the figure of Abraham and God's covenant with him.

The pope said that God's promise to make Abraham the father of many nations highlights "the election, the promise and the covenant," which are "the three dimensions of the life of faith, the three dimensions of Christian life."

"Each one of us is elected; no one chooses to be a Christian among all the possibilities that the religious 'market' has to offer; he or she is elected. We are Christians because we have been chosen. In this election, there is a promise, a promise of hope, a sign of fruitfulness," he explained.

However, God's election and promise are followed by "a covenant of faithfulness" with Christians that requires more than just proving one's faith by their baptism.

"The faith of baptism is an (identity) card," the pope said. "You are a Christian if you say yes to the election that God has made upon you, if you go after that promise that the Lord has made to you and if you live in a covenant with the Lord. This is Christian life."

Pope Francis warned that Christians can stray from the path set forth by God if they do not accept God's election by choosing "many idols, many things that are not of God," by forgetting the promise of hope and by forgetting the covenant with the Lord meant to makes one's life "fruitful and joyful."

"This is the revelation that the word of God gives us today on our Christian existence," the pope said. "May it be like that of our father (Abraham): aware of being elected, joyful of going toward a promise and faithfulness in fulfilling the covenant."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

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Copyright © 2020 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

St. John Paul showed how to face suffering by embracing God, Mary

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Remembering St. John Paul II and the 15th anniversary of his death, Pope Francis encouraged people to pray for his intercession and trust in Divine Mercy, especially during these "difficult days" of the coronavirus pandemic.

St. John Paul, who, after a long illness died April 2, 2005, will always be an important figure for the church, but is even more so now at a time when so many people are suffering worldwide, said Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica.

The last years of his pontificate reflected personal trial and suffering, and he showed the world through his witness a life filled with faith and a way of accepting pain as something redeemed by God's love, he said in an interview with Vatican News April 1.

"This is one of the reasons why the epidemic is so frightening because, for so many people, faith has died. John Paul II was a believer, a convinced believer, a coherent believer and faith illuminated the path of his life," the cardinal said.

Just as the church will be marking Holy Week and the Easter Triduum in a radically different way this year because of restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the cardinal recalled how St. John Paul lived the same liturgical period in 2005 with serious illness and in isolation.

"We all remember John Paul II's last 'Good Friday.' The image we saw on television is unforgettable -- the pope, who had lost all his physical strength, holding the crucifix in his hands, gazing at it with pure love. One could sense he was saying, 'Jesus, I too am on the cross like you. But together with you, I await the resurrection,'" he said.

"John Paul II knew that life is a race toward God's banquet -- the feast of God's embrace, his infinite glory and happiness," the cardinal said.

"But we must prepare ourselves for that encounter, we must purify ourselves in order to be ready for it, we must cast off any reservations of pride and selfishness, so that we can embrace him who is love without shadows," he said.

The late pope lived his suffering with this spirit, even during very difficult moments, like the 1981 assassination attempt, he said.

"He never lost his serenity. Why? Because before him he always had the purpose of life. Today, many people no longer believe in that purpose. That's why they live through pain with despair, because they can't see beyond the pain," he said.

Before being named archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica in 2006, Cardinal Comastri served more than eight years as the papal delegate overseeing the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto, traditionally marked as the Blessed Virgin Mary's house from Nazareth.

St. John Paul, in fact, asked the guardian of the Marian shrine to lead what would be his last Lenten retreat that fell during the Year of the Rosary. Cardinal Comastri has been reciting the rosary and praying the Angelus inside St. Peter's Basilica every day at noon as it is livestreamed on Vatican media.

Marian devotion was a hallmark of the saint-pope, so much so "Totus Tuus Maria" ("Mary, I am all yours") was on his coat of arms.

When asked why Mary was so important to the late pope, Cardinal Comastri told Vatican News, "Because Our Lady was close to Jesus at the moment of the crucifixion and she believed this was the moment of God's victory over human wickedness" through love -- God's greatest strength.

From the cross, when Jesus told Mary, "Behold your son," referring to his disciple, John, the cardinal said that Jesus was telling her, "Don't think of me, but think of others, help them to transform pain into love, help them to believe that goodness is the strength that overcomes evil."

"From that moment on, Mary took concern for us upon herself, and when we let ourselves be guided by her, we are in safe hands. John Paul II believed this, he trusted Mary, and with Mary he transformed pain into love," he said.

 

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Update: Masses, Stations of the Cross, prayers in livestreams, on YouTube

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz Muth

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The number of Masses, Stations of the Cross, meditations and other devotions being livestreamed by dioceses, parishes and other groups around country continues to grow.

In addition, an online database called "With Your Spirit" -- https://withyourspirit.org -- lists livestreamed Masses around the country and allows Catholics to add Masses and other online services they know of to the database, which has been compiled by Michael Bayer, director of evangelization and adult formation at St. Clement Catholic Church in Chicago, with the help of many volunteers.

Here's a sampling of online liturgies and other devotions around the country:

Eastern Time Zone

Archdiocese of Philadelphia, at least 65 parishes to date are livestreaming daily and Sunday Masses plus other devotions (CatholicPhilly.com is posting a running list): https://catholicphilly.com/2020/03/news/local-news/find-a-mass-livestreamed.

Diocese of Manchester, N.H.: https://www.catholicnh.org/community/outreach/health-care/coronavirus/livestreamed-masses.

Diocese of Portland, Maine: https://portlanddiocese.org/live-streamed-masses

Archdiocese of Boston's CatholicTV Network has daily Mass in English and Spanish (Viewers can watch at any time): https://www.watchthemass.com

Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, offers Mass in seven languages, both live and recorded:
https://dioceseofbrooklyn.org/masses

Diocese of Rochester, New York, live streaming events from Stations of the Cross, Sunday Masses, Palm Sunday, chrism Mass and more: https://www.youtube.com/user/CatholicCourier; viewers also can find livestreams here: https://catholiccourier.com

Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of Stamford, Connecticut: http://www.stamforddio.org

Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh Divine Liturgies: https://www.archpitt.org/divine-liturgies-online

Daily Mass in Armenian rite: http://www.telepacearmenia.it

Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Mass in English and Spanish: http://www.catholiccincinnati.org

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington: https://www.nationalshrine.org/mass

St. Augustine's, Mother Church of African American Catholics in Washington:
https://saintaugustine-dc.org/live-streamed-mass

Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, resources: https://dioceseofraleigh.org/news/online-spiritual-resources

Diocese of Orlando, Florida: https://www.facebook.com/orlandodiocese

Archdiocese of Miami, online Masses in these languages:
English: https://www.facebook.com/BasilicaSMSS
Spanish: https://www.facebook.com/icchialeah
Creole: 9 a.m. Sunday: https://www.facebook.com/LiveSaintClement

Archdiocese of Detroit:
https://livestream.com/accounts/19963606/events/9038662

Chaldean Diocese of St. Thomas the Apostle, Southfield, Michigan:
Live streaming Sunday Masses: www.chaldeanchurch.org/live.
Live streaming daily Masses on our Facebook and YouTube channels. YouTube.com/chaldeandiocese

Central Time Zone

Archdiocese of Milwaukee: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrw_JySXFU94eYPgE_ILokQ

St. John's Abbey, livestream daily 5 p.m.; Saturday: 10:30 a.m.; Sunday 11:30 a.m.: https://saintjohnsabbey.org/live

Archdiocese of Chicago Sunday Masses in English, Spanish and Polish (anytime)
https://radiotv.archchicago.org/television/broadcast-masses

Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, Mass in English, Spanish, also rosary
https://dbqarch.org/live-broadcasts

Archdiocese of St. Louis: https://www.archstl.org/live-streamed-and-televised-masses

Archdiocese of New Orleans: https://nolacatholic.org/news/taking-mass-online

Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana: https://www.htdiocese.org/coronavirus-masses

Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, English and Spanish: https://www.archgh.org/onlinemass
Mass in Vietnamese: https://lavangchurch.org

Diocese of Dallas, live and recorded, English and Spanish: https://www.cathdal.org.

Mountain Time Zone

Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming, Mass in English and Spanish, http://dioceseofcheyenne.org/covid19/

Archdiocese of Denver: https://archden.org/coronavirus/locallivestream

Diocese of Salt Lake City: https://www.dioslc.org

Diocese of Phoenix: https://dphx.org/stayhealthy/tvmass

Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, livestream of Sunday Mass with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades: https://fwsbhealth.weebly.com/mass.html (He also will lead Stations of the Cross April 3)

Pacific Time Zone

Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, Sunday Mass 11 a.m.: https://www.facebook.com/archdpdx

Archdiocese of Seattle, daily Mass 8:30 a.m.: https://vimeo.com/archdioceseofseattle

Archdiocese of San Francisco: https://www.sfarchdiocese.org/livestreams

Archdiocese of Los Angeles, 7 a.m. Spanish; 10 a.m. English: https://lacatholics.org/mass-for-the-homebound

Diocese of San Diego Diocese, English, Spanish, Vietnamese: https://www.sdcatholic.org/find-a-parish/on-line-sunday-mass/#english_mass

Alaska Time Zone

Diocese of Fairbanks, English and Spanish: http://dioceseoffairbanks.org/joomla/index.php/online-mass

Hawaii Time Zone

Diocese of Honolulu: https://hawaiicatholictv.com

Sign Language

https://www.facebook.com/ICDACanadianSection
https://bostondeafcatholic.org


Other Devotions

Stations of the Cross by Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas, (anytime, recorded meditations):
https://www.dolr.org/stations-of-the-cross

Meditation/Daily Readings:
https://giveusthisday.org/Digital
https://us.magnificat.net/free
http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm

Oregon Catholic Press:
Resources for parishes: https://www.ocp.org/en-us/blog/entry/resources-for-parishes
Resources for home: https://www.ocp.org/en-us/blog/entry/resources-from-home

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Haddad: Catholic health care committed to 'loving care' of COVID-19 patients

IMAGE: REUTERS

By Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic touches nearly every corner of the globe, "there are many ethical considerations around resource allocation and the delivery of care for critically ill patients," said Mercy Sister Mary Haddad, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association.

"Catholic health care is committed to the healing ministry of Jesus and upholding the inherent dignity of all who seek our care," she said in a March 27 statement. "We are also committed to accompanying and supporting patients through the end of their lives."

She warned against health care providers and facilities proposing "a universal, unilateral DNR" -- a "do not resuscitate" policy -- for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

"It is not morally appropriate" to proposed this kind of a policy, Sister Haddad said.

"This eliminates clinical decision-making and erodes the patient-professional relationship. Universal DNRs also fail to take into account patient and hospital-specific information and undermine our duty to treat patients as unique individuals," she said.

Sister Haddad said she recognizes that for some patients, especially those with underlying conditions, COVID-19 is often deadly and "even with supportive care," including ventilators, many critically ill patients with the disease "will die due to conditions such as multiorgan failure, sepsis, and/or cardiomyopathy."

As a result, she said, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, "may be medically inappropriate for a significant portion of critically ill patients with COVID-19 and underlying comorbidities," and in these cases, she explained, "if it is shown that the burdens exceed the benefits, it is morally acceptable to withhold CPR."

This is in keeping with the "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services" of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Sister Haddad said.

"The clinical indication for decision-making about any intervention does not change for COVID-19 patients," she added. "The best standards and any state-specific regulations or laws on end-of-life decision-making are still applicable."

Across the country, a critical shortage of personal protective equipment for medical personnel who are treating patients with the highly contagious virus and a lack of equipment such as ventilators has prompted some U.S. hospitals to consider instituting a blanket DNR for COVID-19 patients despite their wishes or those of their family.

In general, a DNR is a legal order placed by a physician based on medical judgment and the patient's wishes and values. It indicates that a person does not want to receive CPR if his or her heart stops beating. Sometimes it also prevents other medical interventions.

Sister Haddad said that in all cases where a DNR is being considered, "the patient and/or appropriate surrogate should be informed and provided the rationale."

"When such decisions are made, expert, compassionate communication with the patient and family is always necessary," she said. "Pastoral care should be consulted to provide spiritual support to all involved. Caregivers must also continue, or start, all comfort and palliative measures for the patient."

Hospitals also need to consider the health and safety of their staff, Sister Haddad said. "Catholic health care's duty to care exists not only for the patient but also for the care team."

During this COVID-19 pandemic, hospital procedures should be "examined and modified, if possible, to reduce staff exposure to the virus," she continued, because "resuscitative measures often involve many members of the care team, use a large amount of personal protective equipment, and most importantly, have a high risk of aerosolizing bodily liquids."

Sister Haddad concluded her statement by saying: "The Catholic health care ministry has a long tradition and history of caring for patients during public health emergencies. We draw on the strength and dedication of those who came before us to provide compassionate, loving care to patients suffering from this pandemic."
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Follow Asher on Twitter: @jlasher

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Copyright © 2020 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Pandemic adds increasing burdens on immigrants without legal status

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jose Luis Gonzalez, Reuters

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- From a darkened room, the immigrant spoke in mid-March via Skype to a reporter from the TV station Guatevision, which focuses on issues pertaining to Guatemalans in and outside of the country.

He told her that in Ohio, where he lives, though the community has been generally kind without regard to a person's immigration status, the fear among immigrants without legal permission to be in the U.S. was rampant -- and the coronavirus was just one of many mounting problems.

Work in Ohio, as in the rest of the country and the world, has dried up. Having no health insurance, even some experiencing symptoms were seeking to fight the virus in their residences, without receiving any medical care or advice, risking death and exposing others to the virus.

Jose Arnulfo Cabrera, director of education and advocacy for migration at the Ohio-based Ignatian Solidarity Network said in an interview March 27 with Catholic News Service that for many immigrants, particularly those without legal documentation, the COVID-19 crisis has added another layer of fear and thrown them into an economic crisis with no safety net.

"My mom cleans houses for a living and hasn't worked all week because her clients are in self-quarantine. Many of our friends have lost their job or are day laborers and haven't found work," he told CNS. "Especially since most (immigrants without legal status) live paycheck to paycheck, they're worried they won't make rent this month. The reality of not having health care is also scary right now, especially with public charge."

The 2019 Trump administration's "public charge" policy, which is navigating through U.S. courts, seeks to deny legal status to some immigrants who apply for social safety-net programs. If they apply for government help, it could hurt their chances to apply for permanent residency or citizenship and even threatens deportation for those who sign up for public benefits.

There's also little information about what the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can or can't do in this crisis to a person without legal permission to be in the country, or to a person without that legal status if he or she seeks emergency medical care.

"The information about ICE reducing their operation really hasn't gotten to the community, so many people are fearful ICE will come to their homes," Cabrera said. "In Ohio, the governor has issued a stay-in order.

"There hasn't been any translating on the order, so many folks who don't speak English don't understand what's going on. Last Sunday I spent translating the governor's order for Spanish-speaking families for hours."

Economic policies, such as the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, also do not address workers who long have contributed to the U.S. economy, in taxes paid, but also to the health care system, Cabrera said, adding that workers without legal immigration status have been important in keeping hospitals clean and other essential businesses going long before the crisis and during it.

In New York, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, urged "New York state, New York City and the philanthropic community to continue to provide services to the immigrant population in light of the federal government's exclusion of certain immigrant families, workers and children from many types of support in the federal assistance programs created to help those impacted by COVID-19," according to a March 30 news release issued by the organization.

Msgr. Sullivan said Catholic Charities in New York would remain committed to serving all immigrants.

"We call on our New York public and private partners to continue our New York tradition of including all immigrants in any coronavirus relief assistance that will be made available," he said.

"It is not surprising to us -- yet still disappointing -- that in this unprecedented crisis, the federal government's $2 trillion CARES Act relief package leaves behind millions of hard-working families, schoolchildren, and taxpaying immigrants who are seeking to adjust their status as legal residents and citizens," the priest said. "This leaves many immigrants even more vulnerable in this pandemic. Consistent with our mission Catholic Charities will stand with, and help, to the best of our ability, these most vulnerable of our neighbors."

But the biggest worry is the deadly result that fear and distrust of the government can cause among certain immigrants.  

In Washington, there was speculation that a person who died at home from the coronavirus without seeking medical help in late March may not have been in the country legally.

Mayor Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia did not disclose the person's immigration status, but in a March 30 news conference, she urged anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to consult with a doctor, regardless of his or her immigration status.

"Our first responders will not be asking about your immigration status," the mayor said.

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Update: Prelate advises cellphones can't be used to administer sacraments

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Administering the sacrament of reconciliation via cellphone is impermissible under church teaching, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Divine Worship.

In a March 27 memo to his fellow bishops, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of Hartford, Connecticut, said he was informed by Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship at the Vatican, that using a cellphone for the sacrament poses a threat against the seal of confession.

Even the use of a cellphone to help amplify the voices of a confessor and penitent who can see each other is not allowed, the memo said.

Archbishop Blair also said in the memo that in regard to anointing of the sick, the duty cannot be delegated to someone else, such as a doctor or nurse.

Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Blair noted, however, that when it is not possible for a priest to administer the sacrament of reconciliation, it is appropriate for a someone to seek absolution from sin by offering a "perfect contrition, coming from the love of God."

Such contrition, the catechism continues, "expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness ... and accompanied by 'votum confessionis', that is, by the firm resolution to have recourse, as soon as possible, to sacramental confession, obtains forgiveness of sins, even mortal ones."

Archbishop Blair wrote that the same standard can be applied to the sacrament of the sick.

Questions about such practices arose in response to recent circumstances stemming from the widening transmission of coronavirus.

In the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, a priest prohibited from visiting patients hospitalized in isolation made telephone contact with a hospitalized COVID-19 patient who was on a ventilator and whose family had asked the cleric to administer last rites. The priest led the patient through the process of an act of contrition and a prayer for forgiveness.

Elsewhere, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield, Massachusetts, March 25 allowed nurses to administer holy oil to seriously ill patients as long as an assigned Catholic hospital chaplain was standing away from the bed or outside a patient's room. The policy allowed chaplains to offer prayer via cellphone to patients who were alert.

Bishop Rozanski reversed his decision March 27 and told priests he had suspended the sacrament of the sick throughout the diocese while he "reviews appropriate procedures that can allow it to be safely administered," diocesan spokesman Mark Dupont said in an April 1 statement.

The prior method on administering to the seriously ill "was based on erroneous information provided to Bishop Rozanski. As soon as he learned of this error he stopped the practice -- which was only in place for less than 48 hours. It is unclear whether it was ever actually utilized."

"In the end, Bishop Rozanski is responding to concerns raised by both our clergy and area hospitals," the statement said. "These concerns include the limited supply of personal protection gear as well as clergy contracting and in turn inadvertently spreading the virus," Dupont said.

"I know most priests would willingly undertake the risk upon themselves," he added, "but as we have tragically learned given the insidious nature of how the COVID-19 virus spreads without proper precautions this would extend that risk beyond just the individual priest to everyone with whom he came in contact with."

 

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Vatican approves special 'Mass in the Time of Pandemic'

IMAGE: CNS photo/Soe Zeya Tun, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments has approved a special "Mass in the Time of Pandemic" to plead for God's mercy and gift of strength in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mass opens with a prayer that God would "look with compassion on the afflicted, grant eternal rest to the dead, comfort to mourners, healing to the sick, peace to the dying, strength to health care workers, wisdom to our leaders and the courage to reach out to all in love."

In a letter dated March 30, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the congregation, and Archbishop Arthur Roche, congregation secretary, said, "In these days, during which the whole world has been gravely stricken by the COVID-19 virus," many bishops and priests have asked "to be able to celebrate a specific Mass to implore God to bring an end to this pandemic."

The congregation granted the request and provided special prayers and suggestions for the Scripture readings to be used.

The "Mass in the Time of Pandemic," the congregation said, can be celebrated on any day "except solemnities; the Sundays of Advent, Lent and Easter (season); days within the Octave of Easter; the commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls' Day); Ash Wednesday; and the days of Holy Week."

The offertory prayer for the Mass reads: "Accept, O Lord, the gifts we offer in this time of peril. May they become for us, by your power, a source of healing and peace. Through Christ our Lord."

One of the suggested Gospel readings is Mark 4:35-41, the story of the disciples in the boat on the stormy Sea of Galilee; it is the same reading Pope Francis used March 27 for his special prayer service and blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world), begging God to end the pandemic.

One of the optional first readings is Lamentations 3:17-26, which includes the lines: "I will call this to mind, as my reason to have hope: The favors of the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; they are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness. My portion is the Lord, says my soul, therefore will I hope in him."

A passage from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans also could be used, proclaiming: "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?"

The new Mass ends with the "prayer over the people," which says: "O God, protector of all who hope in you, bless your people, keep them safe, defend them, prepare them, that, free from sin and safe from the enemy, they may persevere always in your love. Through Christ our Lord."

 

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