The Church in Italy

John Waters: The silence of surrender.

The global lockdown crisis, at least in as far as its logic and freedom-larceny has penetrated the West — Europe. America etc. — might be described as a possibly final and lethal attack on the Four Estates of modern society, which is to say of the human community that has endured through two millennia as a result of the proposals of Jesus Christ for a world in keeping with its true story of Creation.

Though their meanings and designations have been fluid through time, these estates, through the evolution of Western civilisation — which is to say Christendom — have been the pillars sustaining and supporting this historic social and spiritual order through its period of growth, consolidation, apotheosis and recent decline. Though shifting, merging, reducing and multiplying through time and governmental trend — from monarchy to democracy and now, it seems,  to something else —  the Four Estates have remained until recent times as the pillars of good authority, governance, leadership and education that have ensured the survival, expansion and prospering of the greatest civilisation the world has ever seen.

The estates, or estates of the realm” as they began, have shifted through time. Early on, the understanding was of a division between nobility, clergy, bourgeoisie and peasantry; later, as societies became more institutionally based, the concept shifted to convey something closer to the separation of powers in government: executive, legislature, judicial arm and press.

The term Fourth Estate”, referring to the press, was coined in the House of Commons in 1787 by the Irish philosopher-politician Edmund Burke, speaking in a debate to mark the opening of parliament to the press. He referred first to what were at that time considered the three estates”—the clerical lords of the realm, the secular lords and the House of Commons— and then, indicating the press benches, said, There sits a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.”

In our time, then, we have seen concept of governmental estates shift again as, in the waves of secularism that have swept across Western civilisation since the Enlightenment, the churches have become more and more marginalized, their role and function usurped by such as artists and celebrities. Nevertheless, it can be said that, in as far as intellectual leadership is concerned, the four pillars have continued to be commonly understood as politics, religion, law and communications media.

In the Covid-19 crisis of this spring of 2020, we have observed what appears to be a terminal assault on all four, a massive cultural coup that now threatens to overwhelm and supplant the core nature of democratic society understood in broadly Christian terms. As the days, weeks, months of this lockdown unfold, the once relatively tranquil West has experienced increasing alienation and despondency, arising from the sudden eruption of unemployment, business closures, widespread poverty and growing hardship, social dislocation, increased crime and violence, loss of homes and property due to unpaid loans, ill health due to anxiety and depression, collapse of small firms and family businesses, enormous job losses, deaths of despair, including suicides, alcoholic and other addictive episodes etc.  — all of which will in turn result in a diminution of overall personal and public health and well-being, utterly nullifying and overwhelming the claimed objectives of the lockdown exercise.

The statistics of the pandemic”, on the face deeply dubious, now reveal themselves as being arrived at through exaggeration, manipulation and falsification of fatality rates. The statistics pointing to the consequences of the lockdown, however, are staggering and already, even at this early stage, depict a civilisation in crisis. Shops, stores, and businesses have been forced to shut. Industrial output has plummeted. Schools and colleges are closed. The streets are empty, the sports facilities are shut, as are theatres, cinemas, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and just about any amenity found in a normal, civilized society. People have been ordered by the Government to remain indefinitely in their own homes (with one short exercise break a day) and not to have social interaction with anyone outside their immediate family. Those over 70 are forbidden to leave their homes at all. Even under wartime conditions the people of Great Britain, under daily attack by German warplanes, were not subjected to such draconian constraints. Their country was at war and threatened with imminent invasion, and yet normal life was still possible.

Under the sway of global medical organisations and scientific experts, the political class of the West has essentially saved in, rolled over and surrendered its representational responsibilities, essentially announcing martial law at the behest of unelected  and largely invisible figures on the basis of a middle-of-the-range influenza-type illness. The media, the famed Fourth Estate of Edmund Burkes christening, has adopted the role of propaganda arm of the insurgency, refusing to question the coup in any significant aspect. The judicial arms of government have, in the main, shown a willingness to acquiesce in the logic and imperatives of what on its face appears to be no more than a colossal spook, if not indeed a complete hoax. In my own country, Ireland, I have sought to take court action against the terms of the globally templated lockdown instituted by the Irish government in Holy Week, but so far have been greeted with obfuscation, evasion and hostility. In the past week a judge has rejected our bid to have the relevant legislation judicially reviewed.

But, perhaps worst of all has been the performance of the Churches, not necessarily because they refused to open their churches, although that is where it begins, but much worse in that they have refused to open their mouths to speak to their own faithful people over the heads of the tyrants who have been inflicting such wounds on our civilisation and our communities.

For the first time in living memory, church services have ceased, with churches closed. At a time of enormous stress and anxiety, people have been denied the comfort of religious observance and ritual, often without as much as the slightest exploration of the possibilities of social distancing” within churches and other options for safeguarding the health of congregations and militating against the spread of the virus. For many older and devout people this amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment.

That the Christian faithful have been denied access to their churches, to the sacraments, through this horrific Easter period of 2020 is to me something unforgivable. That people who have lived their lives in the bosom of the Christian community have been left to die alone, not merely without the comfort of the accompaniment of their loved ones, but also without the ministrations of a priest of God is an infamy that I believe can never be expunged from human history. That these Christian faithful have been hastily buried by huddled groups of masked and terrified family members, without the attendance of beloved friends and neighbours, while the leaders of the churches allied themselves with the responsible globally tyrants, is something that is, I believe, irrecoverable.

That there have been almost no words of good authority coming from those charged with responsibilities of spiritual leadership and blessed with the courage of their faith is for me the most potentially terminal aspect of the present crisis. For if these supposed leaders of the churches  do not speak out of courage about Christ, and about what Christ means, does that not suggest a belief on their part that — as other elements of the culture insists — it is all meaningless? That there is no God who has a Plan for mankind? That all now resides with science? That they have raised the white flag of surrender to invite the barbarians to finally storm the citadels of Christendom?

Is this not what the silence means? If not that, then what?

John Waters

Irish journalist and writer



APPEALFOR THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD to Catholics and all people of good will. 08.05.2020


to Catholics and all people of good will


Veritas liberabit vos

Jn 8:32


In this time of great crisis, we Pastors of the Catholic Church, by virtue of our mandate, consider it our sacred duty to make an Appeal to our Brothers in the Episcopate, to the Clergy, to Religious, to the holy People of God and to all men and women of good will. This Appeal has also been undersigned by intellectuals, doctors, lawyers, journalists and professionals who agree with its content, and may be undersigned by those who wish to make it their own.

The facts have shown that, under the pretext of the Covid-19 epidemic, the inalienable rights of citizens have in many cases been violated and their fundamental freedoms, including the exercise of freedom of worship, expression and movement, have been disproportionately and unjustifiably restricted. Public health must not, and cannot, become an alibi for infringing on the rights of millions of people around the world, let alone for depriving the civil authority of its duty to act wisely for the common good. This is particularly true as growing doubts emerge from several quarters about the actual contagiousness, danger and resistance of the virus. Many authoritative voices in the world of science and medicine confirm that the media’s alarmism about Covid-19 appears to be absolutely unjustified.

We have reason to believe, on the basis of official data on the incidence of the epidemic as related to the number of deaths, that there are powers interested in creating panic among the world’s population with the sole aim of permanently imposing unacceptable forms of restriction on freedoms, of controlling people and of tracking their movements. The imposition of these illiberal measures is a disturbing prelude to the realization of a world government beyond all control.

We also believe that in some situations the containment measures that were adopted, including the closure of shops and businesses, have precipitated a crisis that has brought down entire sectors of the economy. This encourages interference by foreign powers and has serious social and political repercussions. Those with governmental responsibility must stop these forms of social engineering, by taking measures to protect their citizens whom they represent, and in whose interests they have a serious obligation to act. Likewise, let them help the family, the cell of society, by not unreasonably penalizing the weak and elderly, forcing them into a painful separation from their loved ones. The criminalization of personal and social relationships must likewise be judged as an unacceptable part of the plan of those who advocate isolating individuals in order to better manipulate and control them.

We ask the scientific community to be vigilant, so that cures for Covid-19 are offered in honesty for the common good. Every effort must be made to ensure that shady business interests do not influence the choices made by government leaders and international bodies. It is unreasonable to penalize those remedies that have proved to be effective, and are often inexpensive, just because one wishes to give priority to treatments or vaccines that are not as good, but which guarantee pharmaceutical companies far greater profits, and exacerbate public health expenditures. Let us also remember, as Pastors, that for Catholics it is morally unacceptable to develop or use vaccines derived from material from aborted fetuses.

We also ask government leaders to ensure that forms of control over people, whether through tracking systems or any other form of location-finding, are rigorously avoided. The fight against Covid-19, however serious, must not be the pretext for supporting the hidden intentions of supranational bodies that have very strong commercial and political interests in this plan. In particular, citizens must be given the opportunity to refuse these restrictions on personal freedom, without any penalty whatsoever being imposed on those who do not wish to use vaccines, contact tracking or any other similar tool. Let us also consider the blatant contradiction of those who pursue policies of drastic population control and at the same time present themselves as the savior of humanity, without any political or social legitimacy. Finally, the political responsibility of those who represent the people can in no way be left to “experts” who can indeed claim a kind of immunity from prosecution, which is disturbing to say the least.

We strongly urge those in the media to commit themselves to providing accurate information and not penalizing dissent by resorting to forms of censorship, as is happening widely on social media, in the press and on television. Providing accurate information requires that room be given to voices that are not aligned with a single way of thinking. This allows citizens to consciously assess the facts, without being heavily influenced by partisan interventions. A democratic and honest debate is the best antidote to the risk of imposing subtle forms of dictatorship, presumably worse than those our society has seen rise and fall in the recent past.

Finally, as Pastors responsible for the flock of Christ, let us remember that the Church firmly asserts her autonomy to govern, worship, and teach. This autonomy and freedom are an innate right that Our Lord Jesus Christ has given her for the pursuit of her proper ends. For this reason, as Pastors we firmly assert the right to decide autonomously on the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments, just as we claim absolute autonomy in matters falling within our immediate jurisdiction, such as liturgical norms and ways of administering Communion and the Sacraments. The State has no right to interfere, for any reason whatsoever, in the sovereignty of the Church. Ecclesiastical authorities have never refused to collaborate with the State, but such collaboration does not authorize civil authorities to impose any sort of ban or restriction on public worship or the exercise of priestly ministry. The rights of God and of the faithful are the

supreme law of the Church, which she neither intends to, nor can, abdicate. We ask that restrictions on the celebration of public ceremonies be removed.

We should like to invite all people of good will not to shirk their duty to cooperate for the common good, each according to his or her own state and possibilities and in a spirit of fraternal charity. The Church desires such cooperation, but this cannot disregard either a respect for natural law or a guarantee of individual freedoms. The civil duties to which citizens are bound imply the State’s recognition of their rights.

We are all called to assess the current situation in a way consistent with the teaching of the Gospel. This means taking a stand: either with Christ or against Christ. Let us not be intimidated or frightened by those who would have us believe that we are a minority: Good is much more widespread and powerful than the world would have us believe. We are fighting against an invisible enemy that seeks to divide citizens, to separate children from their parents, grandchildren from their grandparents, the faithful from their pastors, students from teachers, and customers from vendors. Let us not allow centuries of Christian civilization to be erased under the pretext of a virus, and an odious technological tyranny to be established, in which nameless and faceless people can decide the fate of the world by confining us to a virtual reality. If this is the plan to which the powers of this earth intend to make us yield, know that Jesus Christ, King and Lord of History, has promised that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail” (Mt 16:18).

Let us entrust government leaders and all those who rule over the fate of nations to Almighty God, that He may enlighten and guide them in this time of great crisis. May they remember that, just as the Lord will judge us Pastors for the flock which he has entrusted to us, so will He also judge government leaders for the peoples whom they have the duty to defend and govern.

With faith, let us beseech the Lord to protect the Church and the world. May the Blessed Virgin, Help of Christians, crush the head of the ancient Serpent and defeat the plans of the children of darkness.

8 May 2020

Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii

To add your signature to this appeal, visit

Interview of Archbishop Dominique Mamberti Secretary for the Holy See’s relations with states to Vatican Radio, regarding the church’s freedom and institutional autonomy with reference to two cases before the European Court of Human Rights.

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