Cardinal warns against unthinking 'belief in miracles' against coronavirus

Coronavirus: cardinal warns against unthinking “belief in miracles”

A cardinal has warned against an unthinking “belief in miracles” against coronavirus.

– Cardinal Hollerich of Luxembourg: crisis shows “we have to change the system”

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg and President of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, spoke to the Luxemburger Wort March 16 from the self-imposed quarantine he entered days back after an employee of the Luxembourg archdiocese tested positive for coronavirus.

In the telephone interview, Hollerich said he was living his self-isolation as “a way to show solidarity with the population, with all those who have the virus”.

“And there is also the opportunity to think about the meaning of life, about the possibilities of our society”, the cardinal reflected.

While he praised the “great commitment” of governments, doctors, nurses and the workers in aged care homes in their fight against COVID-19, Hollerich was more critical of the attitude of those hoarding goods in the midst of the outbreak, behaviour he said was “evidence of panic and selfishness”.

In this virus emergency, “I think that our fun society is being questioned; that a lot of people are now looking for meaning”, the cardinal affirmed.

“And I also believe that our economy has to change.

“Globalisation alone is not enough, you also have to do localisation – the infamous ‘Glocal’ [“think local, act global” – ed.] will certainly become more important.

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“And we have to see how vulnerable our networked societies are. We are only at the beginning of digitization; this networking will become much stronger and vulnerability will also increase”, the cardinal warned.

“Of course I don’t welcome the virus! The virus is bad, it kills”, he continued.

“But there is also a good aspect about everything.

“I think we can critically question our consumer behavior and the economy that serves this behavior – an economy that only delivers cheap products to people. We now know: that alone cannot make us happy or give us meaning. We have to change the system”.

– “I call the faithful to prayer, but not to processions… The only ones who enjoy processions are the viruses”

Asked in the interview about the reactions of the faithful to the fact that public Masses have now been put on hold in Luxembourg, as in many other places around the world, due to the virus crisis, Hollerich said: “Most people understand this because it’s about saving lives. Saving the lives of the elderly and the vulnerable part of the population, not putting them at risk. And most people take it very well”.

“But there are also some who complain: And now this is being taken away from us! Or where there is a belief in miracles, which I don’t share”.

By a “belief in miracles” Hollerich was likely referring to the thought – widespread in conservative Catholic circles – that God will protect the faithful from coronavirus without the need for them to take the proper health and social distancing precautions.

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In these days of coronavirus, “I call the faithful to prayer, but not to processions”, Hollerich said.

“The only ones who enjoy processions are the viruses”, the cardinal added, warning against mass displays of faith in these times of contagion.

– Worst-ever French pedophile ex-priest’s five-year sentence “very little”

Hollerich also referred in his conversation with the Luxemburger Wort to the five-year prison term handed down Monday against French pedophile ex-priest Bernard Preynat, who admitted to abusing dozens of young boys over the course of at least two decades.

“I find that very little”, the cardinal admitted of Preynat’s sentence.

“I am not familiar with the law, but someone who has abused so many children and young people would deserve a higher sentence”.

Hollerich went on to apologise for the Church’s covering-up of clergy sex abuse, “because I believe that, just like we have to protect every life in the case of coronavirus, the Church must first think of the victims” of priestly pedophilia.

The Church must take account first and foremost of “the unspeakable suffering inflicted on the victims – and not the perpetrators. This is false mercy”, the cardinal warned.

“The Church must remain very consistent” in the fight against abuse and the protection of minors, “and we must act with great humility because we have started from a moral height and it has hurt many people that Church officials have tolerated such crimes”, Hollerich went on.

“I understand the people who are agitated about it, which drives them to anger”, the cardinal admitted.

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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.