Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

105—Confronting an Unprecedented Church Scandal—Phil Lawler

By Thomas V. Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | May 13, 2021 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

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Observing both Church history and the events of our lifetime, we can no longer be surprised at the existence of corrupt and abusive priests and bishops. Priestly sexual abuse, for example, was a problem the Church had to fight during the Middle Ages.

The scandal of 2020 and beyond, however, finds no equal precedent in Church history. That bishops throughout the world would choose, of their own volition and without even the excuse of persecution, to deny participation in Mass to the laity for long periods of time, is still as shocking to contemplate today as it is nightmarish to witness.

The Church’s response to COVID-19 was and is a failure of Christian witness like few we have seen. By and large, Catholics in no way distinguished themselves from their secular peers either in rejecting irrational fear or in simply valuing other things above bodily health. The example of the early martyrs, who were willing to risk their lives to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, seems to have been forgotten entirely.

Catholic Culture’s own Phil Lawler has written a new book addressing this massive scandal and advocating a different approach—Contagious Faith: Why the Church Must Spread Hope, Not Fear, in a Pandemic.

Topics covered in this interview include:

  • How the Church’s behavior in this pandemic differs from the oft-cited response of St. Charles Borromeo to plague
  • Bishops acting like public health bureaucrats instead of shepherds of souls
  • Why a confrontation with civil authorities must be forced to ameliorate the evil precedent set for future actions against the Church
  • How the laity can encourage their priests and bishops to defy illegitimate restrictions on the Mass
  • What does obedience require of us? Must Catholics cooperate with absurd requirements from pastors to exercise their basic right to attend Mass? Can Catholics attend illicit masses? Can Catholic priests celebrate them in defiance of their bishop?
  • Is there a moral obligation to take extraordinary measures to protect one’s neighbor from even the slightest risk of catching a disease?
  • Catholics must be a witness to hope in the power of prayer and in eternal life


Phil Lawler, Contagious Faith

Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus.

Thomas V. Mirus is a pianist living in New York City. He is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

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