PopeWatch: Last Rites


The bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts, has temporarily suspended last rites in all instances in his diocese in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bishop Mitchell Rozanski’s directive followed a United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) memo on March 27 reaffirming Church teaching that only priests could administer the sacrament, Catholic News Agency reported. 

Rozanski wrote to his priests March 25 that he was “allowing the assigned Catholic hospital chaplains, standing outside a patient’s room or away from their bedside, to dab a cotton swab with Holy Oil and then allow a nurse to enter the patient’s room and administer the oil,” according to CNA.

“If the patient is alert, the prayers may be provided via telephone,” the bishop wrote.

However, Bishop Leonard Blair of Hartford, chair of the USCCB committee on liturgy, said in last Friday’s memo that “it is not possible for the anointing with oil to be delegated to someone else, such as a nurse or doctor.”

The same afternoon, Rozanski sent his priests a message stating that: “After further discussion and review, I am rescinding my previous directive and temporarily suspending the Anointing of the Sick in all instances.” 

LifeSiteNews contacted the diocese to confirm this but did not hear back by deadline.

Adding to the calamity, some hospitals are banning priests from attending to the dying, such as Grand Rapids, Michigan, as reported last week by LifeSiteNews, and Portland, Oregon, as reported by Catholic News Service.

Go here to read the rest.  Priests on battlefields have risked their lives, and often died, to bring the Last Rites to dying men.  That type of courage has been the hallmark of the Catholic priesthood.  Denying the faithful the Last Rites is heresy, and cowardly heresy.  I wish this were a bad April Fool’s joke.

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  1. So Bishop Hireling of Springfield decides to suspend the giving of Last Rites in his diocese. Something tells me it won’t apply to him if he’s in extremis. I wish this wasn’t surprising to read. This is the same glob of goo who told his priests to send the nurse into the room to administer the Last Rites. Apparently, he thought his priests might be too scared to go in like he surely is.

  2. I recall talking to one priest. He said that before he was ordained he wondered if he had enough courage for the job. As a young priest he was the chaplain, among his other assignments, to the local fire department. One night he was called out for a fire at a large building. It was a bad fire and the firefighters were being removed from the building that couldn’t be saved. One of the firefighters inside was badly injured by falling debris and the fire chief told the priest he was needed inside. He didn’t hesitate and went inside to give the man last rites while the other firefighters were trying to extract the fireman. The priest told me that fear didn’t enter into it. He was a priest, the man needed last rites and that was the beginning and end of it as far as he was concerned.

  3. Remnant has an interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider, published last Friday, wherein His Excellency addresses this very issue. The good Bishop says, in part—

    “If a priest is prohibited by an ecclesial authority from going to visit the sick and dying, he cannot obey. Such a prohibition is an abuse of power. Christ did not give a Bishop the power to forbid visiting the sick and dying.”

  4. I’ve heard comments about bishops sounding like CDC officials, but this sounds more like a corporate CEO covering his @$$ from an employee lawsuit about dangerous working conditions. Certainly not like someone concerned about salvation of souls or one who has any concept of something worth dying for.

  5. “Certainly not like someone concerned about salvation of souls?”
    They don’t believe any of it anymore. I think in many instances they were chosen for their lack of faith. I think the examples of this are too many to list here.

  6. “They don’t believe any of it anymore.”

    I’ve been kicking that possibility around for some time. The speed with which so many are willing to toss things that only a couple decades ago we’d have gone to the mattresses over must mean something.

  7. A few months ago my priest related in a sermon how in the seminary he was told that he would be a great priest except for the fact that he actually believed what he preached. He would better serve the community, he was told, if he saw belief as a means to an end.

    I’ve been thinking about that sermon a lot over the last couple of weeks, since masses have been canceled in every nearby diocese (possibly all diocese across the country?)

    It’s also been enlightening to see the responses of different diocese in the area. They’ve all canceled masses, but the way that they have gone about it has been different. It’s clear that one only did so under pressure from above, since they were the last to cancel masses, they have canceled masses for the shortest amount of time, and they have done everything that they can to keep church buildings open, allow for the sacraments of confession and last rites, etc. In contrast a neighboring diocese canceled masses for several months at the very beginning of this crisis, and generally has not given the faithful any way to access the sacraments or even the buildings.

    While I do not think that this disease is a particularly large threat as crises have gone even in the last century, I DO think that it is a message from God to help us separate the wheat from the chaff.

  8. IF the Catholic church is just another community outreach/service organization, then the only difference between it and the Shriners is that the Shriners don’t dress as funny.

  9. I was born in Springfield, MA: mid-century modern. Family moved when I was 14, but I was never totally ashamed to admit to my place of birth. Over time, however, Springfield declined precipitously in every category and I was less willing to volunteer my birthplace. Last I looked, the most prosperous and longest running downtown business was a gay karaoke bar.
    I can only imagine at the state of Catholicism in Springfield.

  10. I remember reading something that St. JPII had supposedly said about the Protestants in S. America: wolves were stealing people away from the Church. Something along those lines. It certainly was not very ecumenical.
    Today I got two phone calls from two different people at a “Movement Church” (as I call them–think “Jesus Rock” ) that hosts the local RTL people. They (the church members) wanted to know how we were doing and if we needed any prayer, etc. The church live streams both their Sunday service (minus the band) and their Youth Group. They have a Youth Group Chat after that is over.
    Have not got a call from anyone in our parish, but our parish is very small. (I suppose I ought to reach out to a few people myself and will do so tomorrow.) Live Stream and/or Youtube videos are not to be had–I do not think our priest really understands the technology.

  11. Our Florida Governor just announced that religious services are permitted provided folks keep their distance. Wonder how many Bishops will respond?

  12. This time reminds me of the Parable of the Talents. We are all in a period where we’ve been given something, and how we invest it is something that The Master will return and asses; that said, I am hopeful the the bishops and clergy are the ones who are under the most scrutiny.

  13. A doctor risk to be infected by caring for the sick and he is doing his duty, and our bishops are doing the opposite.After you’re dead there is no second chance. Right now I feel abandoned by my church.

  14. It becomes more clear each week. They don’t believe. The bishops simply don’t believe the faith they are sworn to uphold.

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