A year ago most churches throughout the world had closed their doors to public worship in an unprecedented move to help stop the spread of the COVID virus. Little did we know at that time how deadly and costly this dangerous virus would be. Government leaders in some countries were slow to react to the danger this new virus posed. Unfortunately, bad planning helped contribute to the deaths of many people. We in this country and some other countries did not have appropriate equipment stored and as the disease began infecting countless people we were not prepared to deal with such a pandemic.
The scientific and medical community began trying to find ways to combat this disease. Supported by some and ignored by others scientists and doctors quickly went to work to try and understand this new disease in order to find ways to combat its dangerous effects.
Unfortunately, too many people placed their trust in rumors, false advice and plain ignorance thus defeating attempts to combat COVID with proven methods of helping stop the spread of disease. However, to their credit, the scientific and medical community worked long and hard to try and find a way to battle COVID. That we are now able to have not only one but three vaccines that have proven to help stop the spread of COVID is truly unprecedented and nothing short of a miracle.
Though the increasing distribution of preventative vaccines is helping combat this deadly virus there are still far too many people who refuse to take steps to help prevent the spread of this disease. Though medical personnel say wearing a mask is crucial to help stop the spread of COVID, there are those who continue to think this life saving behavior will "interfere with my personal right." Though the scientific evidence is overwhelming too many people still, "insist that large gatherings of people, with no social distance will not be deadly."
In last weekend's bulletin I shared a quote from the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). In their December 2020 statement they stated that it is “morally acceptable” for Catholics to take vaccines against COVID-19. That statement was approved by the Pope for the entire Church. The following comes from that statement:
"All vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive” … “the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good."
"In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed."
As members of the Church we profess our belief in the sanctity of ALL life. In this Lenten Season we recall the teachings of Jesus. We hear stories of his healing the sick, welcoming the stranger and outcasts. We are challenged by his words and life to think not only of ourselves but of others. I encourage you obtain one of the vaccines when it becomes available for you. Let us all do our part as "people who respect all of life" to protect the life of one another and all people of our world.
Forty-one years ago this Wednesday, on March 24, 1980, Bishop Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of El Salvador, was killed by an assassin’s bullet while celebrating Mass in a hospital chapel in San Salvador. Bishop Romero had been appointed Archbishop because he was considered “safe”. He was opposed to activist priests, nuns and lay people. He was well respected by the wealthy and ruling families of El Salvador.
But when his good friend, Fr. Rutilio Grande, SJ, an elderly laymen and a young boy were murdered by soldiers as they tried to visit the sick in Fr. Rutilio’s parish, the Archbishop was deeply shaken. When he asked for information about the deaths he was told to forget about such people and not associate with “such communists.”
As El Salvador experienced more and more killings, especially of Catholics and church workers, the Archbishop began to speak out loudly and forcefully against the violence and poverty. The repression of the ruling government, back by funds from the USA continued to grow stronger and more oppressive. Archbishop Romero began to receive threats and more priests, nuns and lay people were murdered by the ruling government.
A year before his death the Archbishop said, “When we speak of the church of the poor, we are simply telling the rich also: turn your eyes to this church and concern yourselves for the poor as for yourselves. At Puebla (a Latin American Bishops Conference Meeting) we said the poor are a concern of Christ, who will say at the end of life: “Whatever you did to one of these poor ones, you did to me.”
On October 14, 2018, Pope Francis celebrated the canonization of Archbishop Romero as saint. I encourage you to read more about this holy Bishop. If you get a chance watch the movie, Romero, a powerful portrayal of Bishop Romero. You can find information on Bishop Romero in our bookstore.
On February 21, 2020 Pope Francis approved for beatification, Fr. Rutilio, and his two companions (Manuel Solorzano and Nelson Lewis) who were martyred alongside him in 1977.
As we continue our journey in this Lenten Season, I encourage you, to come to daily Mass, join us for Stations of the Cross or celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation here at St. Peter's. We have Masses Monday-Friday at 11:40 am and 1:15 pm.
We pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays at 2:00 pm. If you come to the 1:15 pm Mass on Fridays you are invited to remain in your place after Mass for quiet prayer and then stay for Stations of the Cross at 2pm. You are asked to reserve a place at Mass or stations by calling the church office at 312-372-5111. We offer the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) Monday - Saturday from
10:30 am - 3:00 pm. Reservations are not required for confession.