February 21, 2023 (Edward J Barr) – The Church has a long history of getting involved in world issues. Traditionally, this has meant offering guidance to the faithful on how to properly form their consciences. A recent example is the 2015 US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility. That document offered instruction on how Catholics should consider the central tenants of Catholic social teaching in their political decisions. While referencing mostly modern-era encyclicals, it highlights the dignity of the human person and the common good as preeminent goals. In Part I (see Is the Culture of Death creating a Remnant? Declining births and life expectancy) we explored two elements that are negatively impacting life: abortion policies and effects of the global COVID ‘vaccine’ regiment. Here we will analyze how the Church has responded to these challenges.
To set the stage it must be stipulated that the Culture of Death (COD) has directly impacted Catholic Culture. Rather than the Church acting as leaven in the world, statistics indicate it is the COD that has influenced Catholics. Belief in the sacraments has been in freefall since Vatican II (See Why the Eucharistic Revival will fail: a call to Reconciliation). There has been a decline in the sacraments of baptism and marriage along with an overall drop in Church membership. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University provides significant data on the overall decline of beliefs in the Church. The secular Pew Foundation poll has been following religious beliefs for years and provides similar findings. So how is the Church doing on the abortion issue?
Official Vatican proclamations have consistently supported the Catholic doctrine on the sanctity of life. Yet recent actions by the Vatican demonstrate a strange desire to place virulent opponents of life issues in key positions. Most shocking has been the overthrow of orthodox staff at the Pontifical Academy of Life (for an excellent and comprehensive review of Academy members that oppose Church teaching, see “The Pontifical Academy for What?” in the December 2022 edition of the New Oxford Review). The most recent appointment of a pro-abortion activist was criticized by many, but the Vatican doubled down on the appointment.
The Vatican’s secret agreement with the atheist Chinese communist regime is particularly problematic and has been the subject of intense scrutiny. Senior Church officials have praised the communist dictatorship, even though it has had more abortions worldwide than any other nation. Incredibly, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo even claimed that China is displaying moral leadershipin the principles of Catholic social teaching and defending human dignity. At the same time, the main Church opponent of communist atrocities against the Church, Cardinal Joseph Zen, has been virtually abandoned by the Vatican. Even secular media such as the Wall Street Journal have reported on the Church’s poor treatment of Zen and fellow imprisoned Catholic Jimmy Lai.
In the US the Church hasn’t convinced the faithful to remain faithful to its moral teachings. According to a 2019 Pew Foundation poll, 56% of Catholics said that abortion should be “legal in all or most cases.” Most Catholics said Roe v Wade should not be overturned. In the most recent election, young people as a whole were overwhelmingly pro-abortion and voted for the party that champions that cause. The current president touts his Catholic credentials while he virulently opposes a multitude of Church teachings. The response from the Church is praise and support. Religious and secular media have reported on the Pope siding with Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosiagainst any bishop or priest that seeks to deny the eucharist to politicians promoting inherent evils.
In the final analysis the Vatican says abortion is wrong while taking actions that seem to implicitly support the validity of a pro-abortion stance. American bishops have a better record in standing up for life, yet the fear of offending the Vatican and losing donations has made preaching on abortion about as common as seeing Haley’s comet. The result is Catholics in America are no different than their fellow countrymen in supporting issues contrary to Church teaching.
The Church’s role in supporting the global vaccine regime is clearer. From the beginning the Pope has been an aggressive champion of the COVID inoculations. The Vatican issued formal guidanceon the morality of using COVID ‘vaccines.’ The document purports not to determine the safety and efficacy of the ‘vaccines,’ but to focus on the morality. Despite this, the Vatican uses language that implies the ‘vaccines’ are safe and effective, that there is a grave danger to everyone, and that those that refuse to cooperate remotely with evil “must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent.” In other words, the Vatican supported the false claims that the ‘vaccines’ were safe and effective, that the risk to everyone was severe, and those that decline the jab must be controlled. The last phrase implicitly supports the repressive lockdowns that proved to be detrimental to the physical and mental health of the world. Here the Vatican’s words and actions were consistent. Rome enacted some of the world’s most oppressive policies and were one of the last countries to loosen restrictions. No consideration was given to studies that contradicted their opinion on suspect measures such as masking.
The question of why the Vatican was so pro-COVID inoculation may be related to its relationship with elites that support big government policies. The Pope and bishops even appeared in public service announcements supporting the injections. In 2022 it was learned that the Pope held secret meetings with the president of Pfizer. The extent of this relationship is unclear.
The Vatican’s pro-vaccine stand percolated to the rest of the Church. The Pope was extremely passionate in his promotion of COVID injections. Bishops and priests in the US took their cue from Rome and pushed their flocks to take the shots, making Catholics the most “vaccinated” religious group. Nary a word was said about the steps the Vatican asked Catholics to take if they decide to get the shots, such as encouraging both pharmaceutical companies and governmental health agencies “to produce, approve, distribute and offer ethically acceptable vaccines that do not create problems of conscience for either health care providers or the people to be vaccinated.”
Parts of the media are reporting interesting data on adverse events post COVID ‘vaccine.’ One study provided a comparison between the most and least vaccinated states; Rhode Island and Wyoming, respectively. That analysis was based on a Cleveland Clinic study; it showed Rhode Island fared far worse than Wyoming during the early 2022 COVID surge. Rhode Island is the most “Catholic” state in the US, with 42% self-identifying as adhering to the faith. It is also a state that habitually elects politicians who oppose Church teaching. What effect the Church’s promotion of COVID inoculations had on Rhode Island Catholics was not investigated.
In Europe, the country whose bishops are challenging the perennial teachings of the faith seem to have fared the worst post-COVID inoculation adverse events. A recent study has shown that Germany has experienced a monumental increase in all-cause mortality after implementation of its COVID ‘vaccine’ program. Catholic areas such as Saarland and North Rhine-Westphalia have among the highest percentage of ‘vaccinated’ in Germany. While German bishops dispute with Rome over most moral issues they appear to walk in lockstep with the Vatican on COVID policies.
The Vatican has been virtually silent on adverse events from the ‘vaccines’ they promoted. They overtly support the global power brokers being the worldwide COVID response, such as the World Economic Forum. Anyone that challenges the global narrative is censured, silenced, and banned from polite society. Even medical professionals with impeccable credentials are mercilessly attacked. For an earlier look at this issue see: The Spirit of Vatican II and the Global COVID response). The combination of the Vatican’s overwhelming support for global vaccine and lockdown measures and ignoring legitimate issues surrounding adverse events undercuts the Church’s moral authority.
There is a disconnect between Vatican proclamations on abortion compared to its policies and support of pro-abortion politicians and appointees to Vatican organizations. Such actions spread confusion and points to some degree of corporate culpability in the continuing scourge of death. Church support of COVID inoculations and restrictions and the related silence on adverse events places it firmly in the camp of the global elites who lead the suppression of any dissent and support an anti-life agenda. Whether intentional or not, Vatican policies have contributed to the goal of the Culture of Death to shrink populations. Many Catholics in the US support abortion and most Catholics have embraced injecting themselves with abortion derived or tested therapies. The Church is not protected against making mistakes and the intentions behind the referenced policy decisions cannot be firmly established. Whatever rationale Church leaders used to come to their decisions, the facts point to a new remnant influenced by the COD appearing in the world. Let us pray that a subset of that will be firmly focused on the ultimate Truth, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Edward J Barr is a catechist, an attorney, an intelligence officer, and a university faculty member. He earned a Master of Theology degree from the Augustine Institute. His new novel, The Gray Apostle: Mission of the Messiah is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other bookstores. Mr. Barr is a contributing writer for the Roma Locuta Est blog (www.RomaLocutaEst.com)