Pope Francis Asks Why Catholics in Rome Have Pizza Delivery but No Eucharist

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ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — Pope Francis has written a powerful letter urging priests in Rome to step up the spiritual care of souls during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a March 13 letter to priests allegedly written by Pope Francis but signed by his personal secretary, the pontiff warns that civil authorities are doing their job while the Church’s pastors risk acting like frightened “hired hands” rather than “good shepherds” ready to lay down their lives for the sheep, in reference to Jesus’ words as recounted by Saint John.

“In the epidemic of fear that all of us are living because of the pandemic of the coronavirus, we risk acting like hired hands and not like shepherds,” he writes.

Pope Francis had given his approval on March 12 for all the churches in Rome to be closed but repented of this decision and had most of them reopened on March 13, reportedly after receiving a number of complaints from prelates.

“It is good for the churches to remain open. Priests should be on the front lines,” the letter declares. “The faithful should find courage and comfort from seeing their shepherds. They should know that they can run in any moment and find refuge in their churches and parishes and find them open and welcoming.”

“The Church must truly be missionary, for instance by setting up a hotline that anyone can call to find comfort, to ask for the sacrament of Confession or Holy Communion or to ask for it for their loved ones,” Francis said.

The letter begins with a reference to the tradition of “Quo vadis?”, an encounter between Saint Peter and Jesus that purportedly occurred on the Appian Way as Peter attempted to flee Rome to avoid dying under Nero’s persecutions.

“Humanly speaking, Peter had every right in the world to flee to save his life from persecution and perhaps to be able to found another community and other churches, but in reality, he was acting according to the logic of the world, like Satan, that is, thinking as men think and not as God thinks,” the letter reads.

The pope also seems to suggest that while priests should not flout the edicts of civil authority, they have a higher authority that they are called to obey, which demands a willingness to sacrifice themselves.

“Think of all the souls who feel terrified and abandoned because we pastors follow the instructions of civil authorities — which is right in these circumstances to avoid contagion — while we risk putting aside divine instructions — which is a sin. We think as men think and not as God thinks,” he says. “We join the ranks of those who are terrified rather than joining the doctors, the nurses, the volunteers, the healthcare workers, and mothers and fathers, who are on the front lines.”

“I think of all the people who live by nourishing themselves from the Eucharist, because they believe in the real presence of Jesus who gives himself in holy Communion,” he continues. “I think of those people who now have to be satisfied following the Mass transmitted by streaming. I think of the souls that have need of spiritual comfort and of the sacrament of confession. I think of all those people who will certainly abandon the Church, when this nightmare is over, because the Church abandoned them when they had need of her.”

In his letter, the pope urges priests to go out and meet people — door to door if necessary — to offer them the spiritual assistance that only they can give, “never shutting ourselves in, standing back as spectators.”

“Otherwise, we will find that people are ordering out to have their meals and their pizzas delivered, but do not have Holy Communion brought to them when they are old or sick or needy,” he writes. “It will happen that supermarkets, newspaper stands, and tobacconists are open, but not the churches.”

“The government has the duty to guarantee care and material sustenance for the people but we have the duty to do the same for their souls,” Francis notes. “May it never be said: ‘I’m never going back to a church where no one came to find me when I needed help.’”

“So let us take all the necessary measures but let us not be conditioned by fear,” he concludes. “Let us ask for grace and the courage to behave according to God and not according to men!”

The letter is signed by the pope’s personal secretary, Don Yoannis Lahzi GAID, but a prelate familiar with the situation assured Breitbart News that the pope was the true author of the letter.

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