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Archbishop Cordileone: San Francisco Mass restrictions ‘mocking God’

CNA Staff, Sep 20, 2020 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- Catholics in San Francisco marched in Eucharistic processions across the city on Sunday to protest the city’s continued restrictions on public worship.

“For months I have pleaded with the City on your behalf, advocating for your need of the consolation of the Mass, and the consolation you derive from the practice of your faith and connection with your faith community. City Hall ignored us,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said in his homily at an outdoor Mass following the processions Sept. 20.

“It has become clear to me that they just don’t care about you...We have been patiently putting up with unjust treatment long enough, and now it is time to come together to witness to our faith and to the primacy of God, and tell City Hall: No More!”

San Francisco’s restrictions on public worship remain among the strictest in the country. Mayor London Breed announced last week that starting Sept. 14, houses of worship may have 50 people at religious services outdoors. In addition, indoor private prayer is allowed, but only one person at a time is allowed inside.

Breed also said the city will allow indoor services up to a maximum of 25 people by Oct. 1. This is, Cordileone has noted, less than 1% of the capacity of San Francisco’s cathedral.

Previously, the limit for outdoor services had been 12 people, with all indoor services prohibited. The archdiocese covers the city and county of San Francisco— where the cathedral is located— as well as San Mateo and Marin counties.

In contrast, hotels in San Francisco are fully reopened; indoor gyms are set to reopen at 10% capacity; and most retail stores are allowed to operate at 50% capacity, while malls are restricted to 25%. Gyms operated in government buildings for police officers and other government employees have already reopened.

In addition, Archbishop Cordileone has noted, businesses requiring extended, close one-on-one contact reopened Sept. 14, such as hair salons, nail salons and massage parlors, but “we are allowed only one person in church at a time for prayer.”

“One person at a time in this great Cathedral to pray? What an insult. This is a mockery. They are mocking you, and even worse, they are mocking God,” Cordileone said.

Three separate Eucharistic processions Sept. 20 began at St. Anthony, St. Patrick, and Star of the Sea parishes, and converged at United Nations Plaza near San Francisco City Hall before proceeding to the cathedral.

The archdiocese ordered banners for parishioners to carry during the processions; 100 in English, 15 in Spanish, and 5 in Chinese that read: “We Are Essential: Free the Mass!”

At the 11 am Mass celebrated by Archbishop Cordileone, and additional Masses celebrated simultaneously in the cathedral plaza, all 900 spaces prepared for the outdoor Masses were filled, with additional people lining the sidewalks. An archdiocesan spokesperson told CNA that she estimated about 1,500 people were in attendance.

Cordileone said his time as a pastor at a rural, desert parish near the US-Mexico border taught him that caring for the rejected and the downtrodden in society, in this case undocumented immigrants, is an essential part of the Church’s mission.

”The highest law is love of God and love of neighbor, and that law has to take precedence over the human-made law of the state when government would ask us to turn our backs on God or our neighbor in need,” he noted.

“Now in San Francisco, all of us here are being put at the end of the line.  No matter how rich or poor, no matter whether newly arrived or from families that have been here for many generations, it is our Catholic faith that unites us, and it is because of our Catholic faith that we are being put at the end of the line.”

Priests at many parishes around the archdiocese, including the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, are celebrating multiple Masses every Sunday— outside, and spaced out— in order to adapt to the restrictions.

Outdoor Masses pose their own health challenges, as the Bay Area is experiencing some of the worst air quality in the world, due to smoke and other pollutants coming from wildfires ravaging the West Coast.

While Cordileone has said city officials have been “cordial and respectful” in their dialogue with the archdiocese, he said the city still has not responded to the archdiocese’s safety plan— outlining how churches could be safely opened for indoor services— which they submitted in May.

Becket, a religious liberty law firm, has a page tracking restrictions on public worship related to the pandemic. By their estimation, six states— California, Nevada, Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maine— are treating religious activities unequally as compared to similar secular activities.

The City of San Francisco has been closely monitoring Catholic churches in the city and has repeatedly issued warnings to the archdiocese for apparent health order violations

Cordileone said he himself has noted “very few” violations of the city’s health orders by parishes in the archdiocese, although the few that have occurred have garnered heavy criticism in the secular press.

“This willful discrimination is affecting us all. Yes, discrimination, because there is no other word for it,” Cordileone said. 

“We ask: why can people shop at Nordstrom’s at 25% capacity but only one of you at a time is allowed to pray inside of this great Cathedral, your Cathedral?  Is this equality?  No, there is no reason for this new rule except a desire to put Catholics – to put you – at the back of the line.”

Cordileone encouraged Catholics to continue to pray, suggesting the rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, fasting on Fridays, and availing themselves of the sacrament of confession.

In advocating for a safe reopening of indoor Masses, Cordileone has cited a recent article on Mass attendance and COVID-19, authored Aug. 19 by doctors Thomas McGovern, Deacon Timothy Flanigan, and Paul Cieslak for Real Clear Science.

By following public health guidelines, Catholic Churches have largely avoided viral spread during the more than 1 million Masses that have been celebrated across the United States since the lifting of shelter-in-place orders, the doctors found.

They said in their article that there is no evidence that church services are higher risk than similar activities when guidelines are followed, and no coronavirus outbreaks have not yet been linked to the celebration of the Mass.

Even while protesting the city’s apparent unequal application of health restrictions, the archbishop has encouraged his priests to lead their parishes in following the city’s guidelines.

Many of San Francisco’s problems, from homelessness to drugs to crime, stem from an abandonment of God, he said.

“Our blessed Lord is openly mocked to the gleeful grins of the cultural elites. The sacred symbol of the religious habit is blasphemed with glowing approval of those who profess mutual respect and tolerance for others who are different, while they openly discriminate against us.”

“In fighting for justice, we fight for the glory of God. And so I am calling on every Catholic in this City, and this country, to continue to exercise responsible citizenship, to abide by reasonable public health rules, and to continue to serve our community, despite the mockery to which we are being subject in so many different ways. This is God’s way, and this is how I see Catholics serving Our Lord.”

Supreme Court to begin new term as it ended last one: by teleconference

The Supreme Court, which begins its new term Oct. 5, will be hearing oral arguments by teleconference, just as it did at the end of the last term, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Indiana man named Eagle Scout at age 80 after long wait

An 80-year-old man was finally named Eagle Scout, an honor that he never thought would happen and certainly not in the way it did. Ed Keller thought he would pick up his award at the local Boy Scout office, but he was recognized at a Eagle Scout Court of Honor instead, The Journal Gazette reported Monday.

Pope urges political leaders to ensure coronavirus vaccines get to poor nations

Pope Francis is urging political leaders make sure coronavirus vaccines are available to the poorest nations.

Social distancing central to cloistered nuns’ sacrifice for the greater good

When it comes to social distancing, cloistered religious communities are way ahead of everyone.

Church, society should recognize leadership of Hispanics, Latinos, bishop says

The Catholic Church and American society should recognize the historic and current contributions of Hispanic and Latino leaders, said a U.S. bishop at the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated Sept. 15-Oct. 15.

Everything is unmerited grace, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Sep 20, 2020 / 06:35 am (CNA).- God’s grace is not something we deserve, but he gives it to us anyway, Pope Francis said Sunday during his weekly Angelus address.

God’s “action is more than just, in the sense that it goes beyond justice and manifests itself in grace,” the pope said Sept. 20. “Everything is grace. Our salvation is grace. Our holiness is grace. By giving us grace, he gives us more than we deserve.”

Speaking from a window of the apostolic palace, Pope Francis told those gathered in St. Peter’s Square that “God always pays the maximum.”

“He does not remain in half payment. He pays everything,” he stated.

In his message, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from St. Matthew, in which Jesus tells the parable of the landowner who hires laborers to work in his vineyard.

The master hires laborers at different hours, but at the end of the day, he pays each of them the same wage, upsetting those who started working first, Francis explained.

“And here,” the pope said, “we understand that Jesus is not talking about work and just wages, which is another problem, but about the Kingdom of God and the goodness of the heavenly Father who continually comes out to invite and pays the maximum to everyone.”

In the parable, the landowner tells the unhappy laborers: “Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?”

Finishing the parable, Jesus told his disciples: “Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Pope Francis explained that “whoever reasons with human logic, that is, that of merits acquired with one’s skill, is the first to find himself last.”

He pointed to the example of the Good Thief, one of the criminals crucified next to Jesus, who converted on the cross.

The Good Thief “‘stole’ heaven at the last moment of his life: this is grace, thus acts God. Even with all of us,” Francis said.

“On the other hand, those who try to think about their own merits fail; whoever humbly entrusts himself to the Father’s mercy, ultimately -- like the Good Thief -- finds himself first,” he said.

“May Mary Most Holy help us feel every day the joy and amazement of being called by God to work for him, in his field which is the world, in his vineyard which is the Church. And to have his love, the friendship of Jesus, as the only reward,” he prayed.

The pope said another lesson the parable teaches is the master’s attitude toward the call.

The landowner goes out five times to the square to call people to work for him. This image of an owner going out to look for workers for his vineyard “is touching,” he noted.

He explained that the “master represents God who calls everyone and always calls, at any time. God acts like this today too: he continues to call anyone, at any time, to invite them to work in his Kingdom.”

And Catholics are called to accept and imitate this, he emphasized. God is constantly searching for us “because he wants no one to be excluded from his design of love.”

This is what the Church must do, he said, “always going out; and when the Church is not going out, she falls ill with so many evils that we have in the Church.”

“And why these diseases in the Church? Because it is not going out. It is true that when one goes out there is the danger of an accident. But it is better a damaged Church going out, to proclaim the Gospel, than a Church sick from closure,” he added.

“God always goes out, because he is Father, because he loves. The Church must do the same: always going out.”


Ste. Anne rector: New guild to examine possible sainthood for Fr. Gabriel Richard

Basilica announces historic, ‘overdue step,’ which would study whether Detroit’s famed 19th century priest, missionary led a life of ‘heroic virtue’During September and October, Detroit Catholic is asking readers to prayerfully consider a gift to the Catholic Services Appeal, which funds more than 170 ministries vital to the Church in southeast Michigan, including this publication. Visit to support the mission by making a gift today. We are grateful for your generosity and prayers.DETROIT — Fr. Gabriel Richard was described as many things — a pastor, a builder, a pioneer, a missionary, a statesman and an educator, among others.Now, the Basilica of Ste. Anne, the parish he shepherded for more than 30 years in the early 1800s, is asking whether he might also be a saint.At the conclusion of a Sept. 20 Mass of Thanksgiving celebrating the historic parish’s newly given basilica title, Msgr. Charles Kosanke made the surprise announcement that a new guild is being formed to explore the possibility that Fr. Richard might one day be canonized. (A Detroit Catholic story on the Mass of Thanksgiving will be coming soon.)The French Sulpician missionary, who is entombed in a side chapel of Ste. Anne, is one of the most well-known priests to have ever served the city, arriving in Detroit — then still a small town on the developing Michigan frontier — in 1798, six years after escaping persecution during the French Revolution.Sent to minister among the native and French populations, Fr. Richard worked tirelessly to serve his flock at Ste. Anne, establishing schools, selflessly aiding the poor, building a new church and traveling vast distances to preach the Gospel at missionary outposts throughout the developing territory — not yet even a state.A bust of Fr. Gabriel Richard sits atop his tomb in a side chapel of the Basilica of Ste. Anne in southwest Detroit. Msgr. Charles Kosanke, the basilica’s rector, announced Sept. 20 the creation of a new guild to study the possibility of opening a canonization cause for Detroit’s most famous pastor. (Detroit Catholic file photo)In an interview with Detroit Catholic prior to the announcement, Msgr. Kosanke, Ste. Anne’s rector, said the decision to start the process toward Fr. Richard’s canonization was spurred in part by the basilica announcement.“In some ways, it’s an overdue step,” Msgr. Kosanke said. “I was very happy when the archbishop gave the green light.”While Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, who was present at the Sept. 20 Mass at Ste. Anne, gave his blessing to establish the guild, Msgr. Kosanke said that doesn’t mean Fr. Richard’s canonization cause is officially opened — yet.“This is the exploratory phase. It’s not the official process,” Msgr. Kosanke told Detroit Catholic. “It’s just establishing the guild to do the research. Once the research has been done and we believe his life does reflect heroic virtue or holiness worth promoting, the archbishop has to consult the other bishops in the province — in our case, Michigan. If the archbishop believes, along with the other bishops of Michigan, that this is worth going forward, that’s when the cause is formally opened.”In a statement, Archbishop Vigneron said he looked forward to the guild’s work, citing Fr. Richard as an influential part of Detroit’s Catholic heritage.“Fr. Richard was a zealous pastor whose missionary heart guided all that he did,” the archbishop said. “At a time when we in the archdiocese are coming to a renewed awareness of our missionary vocation, I am grateful that we are able to raise up Fr. Richard as a model and inspiration for our mission today.”Born Oct. 15, 1767, in La Ville de Saintes, France, Fr. Richard entered the Society of the Priests of St. Sulpice on April 10, 1790. He was ordained Oct. 9, 1791. A year later, as the French Revolution was breaking out, Fr. Richard fled to America and initially served as a frontier missionary along the Mississippi River in modern-day Illinois.A mural featuring Fr. Gabriel Richard created by Sr. Jane Mary Sorosiak, OSF, is seen inside the TCF Center (formerly Cobo Center) in downtown Detroit. The mural includes Fr. Richard’s famous saying, “Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus” (”We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes”), which became the city’s motto after the fire of 1805. (Detroit Catholic file photo)He arrived in Detroit in June 1798, serving first as assistant pastor and later pastor of Ste. Anne, the city’s oldest parish.When a historic fire leveled the city in 1805, Fr. Richard provided comfort and leadership, marshaling emergency tents, food supplies and medical care while beginning the arduous task of rebuilding. His most famous saying became the city’s motto: Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus — “We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes.”During the War of 1812, Fr. Richard opened field hospitals for the sick and wounded, and advocated for Detroit’s French and American community among the British occupiers. He was captured in 1813, but freed three weeks later — some say at the demand of the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, whose respect Fr. Richard had earned through frequent missionary visits to Native American villages.While well-known to Detroit’s Catholics, Fr. Richard also was a prominent civic leader whose contributions to southeast Michigan have stood the test of time.“Detroiters, even if they don’t know him, they’ve at least seen his name throughout the city,” Msgr. Kosanke said. “Parks and schools are named after him. His statue is at the county building.”This 1946 window display at the J.L. Hudson Department Store in downtown Detroit depicted the aftermath of the 1805 fire with Fr. Gabriel Richard consoling a young girl. Fr. Richard is known as Detroit's “second founder” for his efforts to help rebuild the city after the fire. (Courtesy of the Detroit Public Library’s Digital Collections: strong proponent of education, Fr. Richard co-founded the University of Michigan in 1817, and brought the first printing press to the city in 1809. He even served one term as Michigan’s non-voting congressional representative from 1823-25 — the first Catholic priest ever to serve in Congress.As a statesman, Fr. Richard advocated for the equitable treatment of the territory’s French, American and native populations, and secured funding to build roads, including Michigan Avenue, which today connects Detroit and Chicago.But while undoubtedly a great community leader, it was Fr. Richard’s unwavering faith that makes him a candidate for sainthood, Msgr. Kosanke said.“As a missionary pastor, he was extremely dedicated. That’s a good start, because you’d hope all pastors would be that way,” Msgr. Kosanke said. “But he was also a staunch defender of Church teaching, and even was jailed for it.”Like many saints, Fr. Richard even gave his life serving his flock, dying from cholera in a situation very similar to today’s, Msgr. Kosanke said.“He also had a great concern for the poor, which is very important for the life of a saint,” Msgr. Kosanke continued. “He died ministering to people suffering from the cholera epidemic. We’ve been experiencing our own pandemic, but there is ample documentation that his death was a result of his pastoral dedication to his sick and dying parishioners.”Since Fr. Richard’s death on Sept. 13, 1832, his legacy has only grown in the Detroit area. At least four southeast Michigan schools are named after him, in addition to various public buildings and parks.An exhibit featuring various elements of Fr. Gabriel Richard's life is seen on display at the Basilica of Ste. Anne. The basilica hosts the exhibit, which includes letters written by Fr. Richard, each year in September and October. (Joe Boggs | Special to Detroit Catholic)If the new guild believes Fr. Richard led a life of “heroic virtue” and Archbishop Vigneron and his episcopal colleagues agree, the case could then be sent to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, officially opening his cause for sainthood and granting him the title “servant of God.”If the Vatican congregation agrees with the assessment, Fr. Richard would move to the next step, and the title “venerable” would be given. Beatification, the second to last step toward sainthood, requires a miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession — at which point the title “blessed” is given — and canonization, or official sainthood, requires a second miracle that takes place after beatification.When Fr. Richard’s body was moved from underneath the altar at Ste. Anne to a side chapel in 1976, there was hope that a canonization cause might start, but “it didn’t get off the ground,” Msgr. Kosanke said.“Msgr. Edward Hickey (former chancellor of the Archdiocese of Detroit) was a great promoter of Fr. Gabriel Richard’s life, but at no time did they begin any steps toward (canonization),” Msgr. Kosanke said.Since becoming pastor of Ste. Anne in 2016, Msgr. Kosanke said his own devotion to Fr. Richard’s legacy has increased.“In my four years as pastor of Ste. Anne, I’ve read extensively about his life, and I’m convinced he’s at least a ‘servant of God,’” Msgr. Kosanke said. “Whether he’ll become a saint, I don’t know, and probably not during my lifetime.”Similar to the Solanus Casey Guild, which promotes and studies the life of Blessed Solanus Casey, the Fr. Gabriel Richard Guild will be dedicated to promoting Fr. Richard’s life and studying the materials needed to advance his cause, Msgr. Kosanke said.Unlike Blessed Solanus, however, the research for Fr. Richard will be based on historical letters, books and documentation, since there are no eyewitnesses to interview.“The longer someone has been deceased, the harder it is,” Msgr. Kosanke said. “But we have letters written by people at the time describing his heroic virtues; that will be part of the evidence of the way he lived his life.”Some of those letters are in the basilica’s possession or with the Archdiocese of Detroit, but some also reside with the University of Michigan, the Archdiocese of Baltimore — which had pastoral care of Detroit during Fr. Richard’s life — and the headquarters of the Society of St. Sulpice in Paris, France.Fr. Richard is buried in a side chapel of the Basilica of Ste. Anne, the parish he led from 1802 until 1832. Fr. Richard built the parish’s seventh church, a stone edifice that lasted from 1818 until the current basilica was built in 1886. (James Silvestri | Special to Detroit Catholic)“We pretty much know where the information is and already have some of it,” Msgr. Kosanke said. “But it’s a matter of hiring someone to put all that together and document it in an orderly process.”The initial information-gathering phase should last about a year, he said, “but that’s just a guess.”Once the guild is established, anyone — lay or clergy — can join as a member. The guild would then establish bylaws or statutes and elect leadership that would work with the basilica, under the rector’s supervision, to do its work.Besides Blessed Solanus Casey and Fr. Richard, four others with Michigan ties are in some stage of the sainthood process: Venerable Bishop Frederic Baraga, the famous “snowshoe priest” and founding bishop of the Diocese of Marquette; Servant of God Fr. Walter Ciszek, a graduate of the Orchard Lake Schools who secretly ministered in Soviet prisons; Servant of God Fr. John Hardon, SJ, an internationally known Marian catechist; and Servant of God Irving “Francis” Houle, an Upper Peninsula grandfather and reported stigmatic whose cause was opened in Marquette in 2018.While Fr. Richard’s journey to potential sainthood is just beginning, it’s already reached the ears of the Sulpicians in France, Msgr. Kosanke said.Fr. Ronald Witherup, PSS, superior general of the Sulpicians, wrote in a Sept. 18 letter to Ste. Anne that he is “pleased to learn that his cause for sainthood will, by God’s grace, be able to proceed.”“It is a great honor for the parish but also a recognition of the fruit of the distant labors in the nineteenth century of our Sulpician confrere Fr. Gabriel Richard,” Fr. Witherup wrote. “Gabriel Richard was a most remarkable and gifted missionary whose labors produced enormous fruit even beyond his lifetime. I join you in prayer that this Servant of God’s cause may proceed unhindered, and that the recognition of his sanctity, his selfless devotion to his flock, and his early efforts at ecumenism and ceaseless evangelization will continue to inspire greater evangelization efforts in our own day.”Learn about Fr. Gabriel RichardThe Basilica of Ste. Anne hosts an annual exhibit featuring artifacts, letters and documentation from Fr. Gabriel Richard’s life. The exhibit started Sept. 13 and will continue until the end of September. To learn more or to schedule a tour, call the parish office at (313) 496-1701.RELATED LocalPope names Ste. Anne Church a basilica, cementing historic parish’s importance to DetroitDesignation of the second-oldest continually operating parish in U.S. a 'truly blessed' day, long time coming, archbishop says ...  Mar 1  HistoryFr. Gabriel Richard: What you didn't know about Detroit's famed 'second founder'In the morning hours of June 11, 1805, dozens of local Catholic families tied up their canoes along the banks of the Detroit...  Oct 23  LocalWho’s next for Michigan on the road to sainthood?After Blessed Solanus’ beatification, Great Lakes State watching three other causes for priests with local ties DETROIT — On...  Aug 23  Edit

Washington reinstating virtually all the U.N. sanctions on Iran

Washington says it is reinstating virtually all the U.N. sanctions on Iran, including an arms embargo.

Pope at Angelus: God calls everyone, and calls always

At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis reflects on the parable of the workers in the vineyard, heard in the day’s Gospel, and elaborates on two ways God acts.