PopeWatch: Mirrors

From medievalist Danièle Cybulskie:


As news of outbreaks of disease continues to swirl around the world, I keep being reminded of the bravery of the caregivers who bring comfort and aid to the sick and the dying. In the Middle Ages, this would have been local healers, but very often priests, who would have been called to visit people near death in order to hear their confessions, and administer their last rites. During The Black Death of 1347 (and the years following), priests were faced with the task of stepping into sickrooms, knowing that they faced an unseen enemy that very likely would kill them shortly. That thousands of priests took those steps anyway, risking their lives to give hope and comfort to those in pain and fear is something I can’t help but admire all these centuries later.

Go here to read the rest.  The article goes on to note that the death rate of the clergy was far higher than the laity, probably around an absolutely stunning 45%.  Contrary to the quoted article, the courage displayed by clergy generally helped strengthen respect for the clergy in the later Middle Ages, the calamity of the Reformation causing us to misread the strength of the Church in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when the Faith generally was vibrant and flourishing, with the ending of the Great Schism, and with many movements for reform at work within the Church.

What we are currently confronting is not the Black Death, I doubt if in retrospect it will even be called the Black Sniffles.  Due to the current policy of the Church, which seems to be to roll over at every command of the State, priests have had small scope to show courage in the present debacle.  If they were called upon to display such courage, I have no doubt that the average parish priest would not be found wanting.  At a higher level, the reaction of the Church has been found wanting.  I think even the Pope senses this, as his intervention caused the diocese of Rome to reopen churches for private visits.

Lent is a good time for looking at ourselves in the mirror without illusions and pretexts.  The current virus hysteria has put up such a mirror before the whole Church.

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