Capitulate – to surrender after negotiation of terms. (Merriam-Webster) – literally, to hand over one’s head.
The statement of the Quebec bishops declaring their submission to the vaccine passport for entry into churches comes across as a confused pottage of self-justification. They take the Vatican II Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae) out of context, which declared the practice of religion a fundamental right, but one that must be practised ‘within due limits’, preserving ‘just public order’.
The declaration therefore recognizes that “just limits” can be imposed on religious freedom in certain circumstances.
Hence, the bishops conclude:
As humanity faces the risks posed by the pandemic to our societies, Catholics recognize that the government not only has the right, but above all the duty to intervene to ensure the health and safety of all. It is the duty of the State, even if the decisions taken are imperfect and questionable, made at the cost of scientific and political compromises
These limits on religious freedom were intended to prevent such things as polygamy, jihad or suicide cults. They were never meant to keep baptized Catholics outside of their own churches, based on dubious and disputed (and to my mind, deranged) medical criteria. Whatever coronavirus is causing Covid has now mitigated, and evidence is piling up that the vaccines are at best of limited efficacy, and perhaps even counter-productive.
The bishops themselves seem uncertain, their conscience unsettled, as evinced in their caviling caveat towards the end:
This is why it seems reasonable to us, in the circumstances, to agree to certain compromises to contribute to the safety and health of all. For a time, we accept that the vaccination passport is required to access a place of worship, even if this measure upsets us deeply. However, we remain in contact with government authorities to remind them that this requirement goes against our beliefs and to ensure that it will be lifted as soon as it is safe to do so.
Ah, for a time, and half a time, until it be ‘safe’. One might think that Catholics – and bishops in particular – are called to stand up for their beliefs, like, say, truckers. But here we are.
I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. And scattered the sheep are, out in the snow. It is disconcerting, and a vivid scandal, that a Justin Trudeau with Covid can attend Mass and receive Communion, while a pregnant faithful mother with natural immunity who refuses the jab for her own quite valid reasons, is barred. This neither follows the science of medicine nor, more to the point, of theology. The bishops might want to review Canon 915. The prophet Jeremiah, chapter 23, would also help in their reflection, perhaps for a pre-Lenten retreat. The more pertinent sickness here is not physical, but spiritual, and the consequences are grave, and eternal.
The Church in Quebec, itself already spiritually ill, even moribund, may never fully recover from this. Already bleeding members in arterial fashion, this will only accelerate that process, and inhibit anyone else from joining. Make disciples of all nations? What we have here is a near textbook example of Erastianism, the subjugation of the Church to the state, a total inversion of the proper order. A subservient secular Church is and always will be an oxymoron.
There is hope – that a purified remnant rises from the ashes, a Church des aïeux, avant le revolution tranquil, one on fire with the holiness of Marie de l’Incarnation, Francois de Laval, and all those countless habitants who tamed this frozen land. We may trust that God will not allow their efforts to have been in vain.
The bishops suggest the unwashed can have Mass outside – it’s minus 30 centigrade in Quebec – if they can find a priest. Some of them have done so, and will continue to do so, descendants of their hardy ancestors. But they shouldn’t have to; the churches are theirs, and may God somehow stiffen the backbone of the bishops, so they may be the guardians and fathers they are meant to be, to stand up to Legault and his minions, and just say ‘non’.
Holy Saints of Quebec, orate pro nobis! +