Mgr. Derio Olivero, bishop of Pinerolo (Pignerol), located in the Piedmont near Turin, distinguished himself on the Italian peninsula by making the surprisingly unilateral decision to suspend the public celebration of Mass for two weeks.
The local ordinary announced the suspension in a letter to the faithful, available on the website of the diocese. He gives the reasons which led him to this decision.
The pastor is struck by the return of partial confinement. The Piedmont region is indeed one of those most affected by the resumption of the epidemic, after Lombardy. The curfew is in place, some of the businesses are closed ... However, worship has not been suspended.
Bishop Olivero observes the resumption of the epidemic with dismay. He hardly considers the restrictions and sacrifices imposed on all. And he naively notes that “the government did not ask us to suspend public celebrations.” Yet, he adds against all expectations, “I ask Catholics ‘to voluntarily take a step back’ and renounce this right for two Sundays, to contribute to a common good, that is to say to the containment of the contagion.”
If we follow the reasoning correctly, is the essentially supernatural divine worship inferior to a natural common good? And should the Catholic, who must already undergo all the common privations listed by the bishop, in addition voluntarily move away from what is most necessary for him? As if, without this “great sacrifice,” the efforts he is otherwise able to make were worthless?
To justify himself, the bishop says that “being a Christian does not first mean defending your rights, but fighting for the rights of all.” He objected then: “Many will tell me that we must defend our identity, which is expressed above all in the Eucharistic celebration.” But he replies that “our identity resides in our ability to follow Jesus Christ, who made Himself a gift for all, capable of hospitable holiness.”
But precisely, following Jesus Christ consists in uniting oneself with His sacrifice, the sacrifice of the Cross, renewed daily on our altars. And to offer the divine victim to the Eternal Father in atonement for our sins and for the salvation of the world.
The pastor continues with a reminder on the beauty of prayer, of family prayer. He also promises to be the first to deal with “contacts and be present with videos, streaming, messages, phone calls,” prompting the Christians he confines to “devote more time to relationships…With a slogan, I would say: “We are closing in order to open.”
And to explain this more or less obscure language to us, he takes up the Pope’s favorite themes: “I dream of a Church that is less repetitive, less individualistic, less egocentric; I dream of a Church which becomes dialogue, which becomes interdependent, which lives in relationships, which is capable of celebrating the Resurrection of the Lord always with an authentic creativity. I dream of a Church that embodies the encyclical Fratelli tutti, that lives the commandment of love.”
Has the prelate forgotten that the first relationship that every Catholic - and even every man - must build is his relationship with Christ, especially through the worship He bequeathed to us, and that the Church must perpetuate for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls? This worship is not only celebrated for its community aspect, as the bishop also says, but to offer the divine victim to God, and to unite ourselves with Christ in His eternal oblation.
The Church is not “dialogue,” she is first of all worship; she is the mystical Body of Christ, united at her head, to accomplish “all justice,” namely, and above all, the virtue of religion and all its acts. It is only through this deep union with Jesus, and Jesus crucified, that members of the Church can “spread and communicate” the charity of Christ to the world.