Fr. Carlos Martins wrote a blasphemous piece on a public Facebook post, right before Good Friday, on 4-9-20. It’s doubly disgraceful and scandalous, having been written by a Catholic priest. I can’t bring myself to link to it, because then I might be a cause for someone being led astray. I’m sure anyone can find it, anyway, if they insist on doing so. In only two days’ time, it garnered over 1100 Facebook “likes” and 701 comments (mostly rapturous in praise) and over 1200 shares. God help us!
Wouldn’t it be nice if I could spend my time as an apologist, defending Holy Mother Church and the Holy Father (and God Himself in this case) against enemies outside the Church rather than Catholics within it? But alas, these are the times we live in. Words of Fr. Martins will be in blue.
This is a difficult reflection to write.
I imagine it would be very difficult for a Catholic priest to write such an article.
I apologize in advance for the length. But I think that every word is necessary.
What is necessary is to tell the truth and to exercise charity and apply wisdom and knowledge. Sadly, I submit that none of those things are emphasized here.
My hope is to give the people of God, and especially the clergy, some understanding as to why I believe the COVID-19 pandemic is happening.
And we will examine his “case” to see if it stands up to Holy Scripture, facts, and reason.
In a word, we are experiencing a divine chastisement for idolatries. I fear more is to come.
He does not substantiate or prove this in the least, as I will show as we go along. Note, for example, that Fr. Martins does not provide one single Bible passage in order to bolster his contentions. It’s simply his own bald, unsubstantiated opinion, based on false premises. Sorry, that’s not good enough.
Consider the following:
It’s not a “fact” at all, as I will demonstrate. One can’t build a supposedly good “argument” by starting with a false premise. That’s like the house built on a foundation of sand.
We all know that during the Amazon Synod last fall, the Pope permitted pagan ceremonies in the Vatican Gardens with a Pachamama statue. Pachamama is an idol within the pagan Amazonian mythology … specifically, a fertility goddess who (allegedly) sustains all life on earth (I’m not kidding … just Google it).
This is four lies (and “lie” can mean simply a “falsehood”: not necessarily deliberate; look it up) in rapid succession, packed into two sentences, with the claim that we “all know“ what is erroneously asserted:
1) It was not a “pagan ceremony.”
2) The figures in question were not “Pachamama” statues.
3) These figures were not idols (neither in essence nor in the intentions and hearts of those in the ceremony).
4) Nor is Pachamama (which was not present here, but falsely assumed to be) even part of “pagan Amazonian mythology”. Pachamama [just “Wikipedia it”] comes, rather, from Inca mythology, and the Andes Mountains in South America, near the Pacific Ocean. In fact, in the Wikipedia article, the word “Amazon” never even appears.
The basic error here is “going by appearances” alone. But even the premises of the appearances that critics of this ceremony assume are themselves quite questionable. A bunch of radical Catholic reactionaries and non-extremist legitimate traditionalist Catholics saw some small statues (portraying some sort of woman: all agree), and they immediately concluded that they were “idols.” But this is almost identical to iconoclastic Calvinist reasoning in the 16th century.
Are they unfamiliar with Catholic images, like statues and icons and paintings? We fully allow those things. They are (rightly understood) entirely biblical, as I have proven from Scripture time and again. And they are usually for the purpose of veneration, not worship and adoration (a statue of Christ could include the latter).
The early Calvinists (like many of them still today) were iconoclasts, and went around smashing statues in Catholic Churches (including statues of Christ and crucifixes; even bare crosses!). They didn’t like stained glass windows, either, and even took an ax to church organs. It was all “idolatry” to them, you see. Why? Well, because they were images, and the Bible (dontcha know) is against all “graven images”.
Really? Funny, then, that the temple itself (whose design was expressly revealed by God) was filled with images, as was the ark of the covenant, which had figures of cherubim (angels) on its lid. There was also Moses’ bronze serpent, etc. Even God the Father was sometimes worshiped directly via an image (pillar of fire and of cloud).
Moreover, Calvinists and other anti-Catholic Protestants were convinced that the Mass itself was idolatrous blasphemy, including the climax of supposed idolatrous worship of a piece of bread. They just don’t get it. So how is it that today we have Catholics who see some image and go nuts: immediately concluding that idols are in play, because some folks from the Amazon dress a little differently and have some (Catholic) ceremonies that look exotic and “foreign” to us in more developed countries? It simply doesn’t follow. Idolatry has to be determined by what is in a person’s heart and intentions. That’s what the Bible repeatedly teaches.
How — you may ask — do I back up my contentions? Well, it can’t be briefly done. Unfortunately, falsehoods and propagandistic slogans may be very short, but it takes a lot more ink to refute them (I know from long apologetics experience). I have written no less than eleven blog papers this issue and false assertion, covering just about every angle and interacting with the proponents of this Huge Myth, that thousands of Catholics have accepted uncritically:
However, at the Mass to close the Amazon Synod (Oct. 27, 2019) the Pope received a bowl with soil and plants during the offertory from an indigenous woman. In the Amazon, such bowls are synonymous with the Pachamama deity, symbolizing her status as Mother Earth (again, just Google “Pachamama” and “bowl”).
All of this must be interpreted and proven to be idolatrous in intent, which is never done. It’s merely assumed (starting with the false premises briefly described above). But assumptions are not arguments, and hence, carry no persuasive force.
The Pope instructed his Master of Ceremonies (Monsignor Guido Marini) to place the bowl on the high altar within the Basilica of St. Peter. Neither plants, nor any other object, save what is needed to celebrate Mass, is EVER PERMITTED TO BE PLACED ON AN ALTAR. This has been the constant practice of the Church for 2,000 years, and is the Vatican’s own directive.
Well, I’m no expert on either liturgical rubrics or canon law, so I’ll do what I always do when hindered by such limitations: I go to someone who is an expert on those things: in this instance, canon lawyer Cathy Caridi, who runs the Canon Law Made Easy site. She draws the distinction between ecclesiastical laws, which are man-made and can as a result be changed or occasionally dispensed, and divine laws, which come from God and therefore can’t change.
Hence, she states: “He is perfectly free to dispense himself from following the [ecclesiastical] law when he wishes — just as he may change the law entirely, if he wishes.” What is permitted on an altar has to do with ecclesiastical law. Of course, if the said objects were in fact idols, then it would go against divine law, but since they aren’t in the first place, they don’t.
That venerable altar—the most recognizable in the world—had no congregation around it tonight for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. As well, for the first time in its storied history, it will have no congregation present for the Easter Vigil Mass (the Mass the Church calls “the Mother of all Liturgies”), nor for the Easter Sunday Masses.
This is a rare actual undisputed fact in the piece (though there have been times in the past when some churches were closed due to epidemics). A breath of fresh air . . .
The Pachamama idol was placed on the altars of various churches throughout Rome during the Synod.
Catholic Churches world-wide are now closed to the Faithful. No altar throughout the world had the People of God present for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper this evening, nor will they for any of the Easter liturgies this weekend. The priest(s) will celebrate alone. In fact, certain dioceses, such as that of Hamilton (Canada), have forbidden the Celebration of the Sacred Triduum in ANY parish even by the priests alone. (Who in God’s name would get sick by a priest offering Mass alone in his parish church? No one. Thus, preventing the spread of sickness cannot be the motive of such bishops.)
I don’t know, but I imagine that would be because the virus is known to be able to stick to surfaces for a period of time; therefore, places where a lot of people were, could transmit it for some period of time, even with no people present.
It is as if the Italian altars acted as proxies for every other altar, transferring their “sin” onto them. Neither the Roman Emperors, nor Attila the Hun, nor the Ottomans, nor the French Revolution, nor the World Wars, nor Hitler and Stalin were ever successful at emptying parishes of their congregations. And now every Catholic parish worldwide is empty during the holiest days of the year.
This, of course, is the famous post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy (“after this, therefore because of this” or, “Since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X.”). It’s no proof at all, almost needless to say. But this is how conspiratorialists think. It’s not logical thought, and creates mythical connections where there are demonstrably none, or none that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. And, as we have shown, in this instance, it was based upon an entirely false starting premise, too. The Wikipedia article on the fallacy further explains:
Post hoc is a particularly tempting error because correlation appears to suggest causality. The fallacy lies in a conclusion based solely on the order of events, rather than taking into account other factors potentially responsible for the result that might rule out the connection.
A simple example is “the rooster crows immediately before sunrise; therefore the rooster causes the sun to rise.”
I used to have fun with my kids when they were real little, by twisting my ear, which “made” my tongue come out. In their little minds, perhaps they thought it actually was a causal connection. That’s about how silly the present “argumentation” is.
It’s an epidemic: all you conspiratorialists out there. It’s known to be wildly contagious. Therefore, when it is already out of hand, it can only be (relatively) stopped by people getting away from each other. It jumps from people to people based on what we do, and there are ways we can at least greatly slow its spread. This saves lives: mostly of elderly people already sick: who are the overwhelming victims of the pandemic. And it includes churches, because thousands of people congregate in them.
To argue that it is okay to have a Mass: knowing full well that many could contract the virus as a result, and a certain number of them die (and a horrible death at that), is downright immoral and unconscionable. The Mass (like the Sabbath) was made for man, not man for the Mass. We can survive a temporary suspension of public Masses. But many will not survive the virus, if empty conspiratorialism rules the day.
The Italian Bishops Conference published an official prayer to Pachamama. I am not kidding. An official prayer to a pagan idol [link]. The note in brackets at end of the prayer even reads “Prayer to Mother Earth from the Incas”!
1) This was, as I understand it, from a 1988 publication, and so had nothing to do with the disputed / lied-about ceremony.
2) The Incas are not the Amazonians, nor “Pachamama” one of the latter’s religious figures, as already explained.
3) The bishops were not endorsing it. It was presented merely as a specimen of indigenous South American religion. My friend James Scott explained in a comment on my blog on 3-3-20:
All they are doing here is citing this prayer as “testimony” from the Indigenous peoples as to the damage the west is supposedly doing to their environment, or as to their suffering or plight. But nowhere does this say Catholics should pray this prayer or incorporate it into their liturgy or let pagan converts to the Faith continue to pray it. To hear these reactionaries you would think the Italian bishops have issued prayer books or missals instructing us to pray to Pachamama. But that is not what we see here. This is just a missionary magazine like Catholic Near East or whatever showcasing some local culture: nothing more. At this point I must question the moral integrity of the people posting this drivel. It is slander and a mortal sin!
AFTERWARDS: Italy became the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic hotspot, and its hospitals were completely overwhelmed with the sick. Medical staff had to choose who to put on a ventilator, and who to simply let die. In other words, they had to play God. As of this evening (April 9, 2020), the virus has killed over 100 Italian priests, far more than in another other country.
More post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, minus any shred of argumentation that might lead a reasonable, open-minded person to accept all of these fanciful conspiracies. The prevalence of the virus in Italy is due to many established, quite reasonable causes, which I laid out in an extensive paper on the topic.
The argument is profoundly incoherent, because if Italy was truly being judged for alleged [in fact, imaginary] sins, certainly, one of the prime targets would be the allegedly wicked, evil, heretical Pope Francis and his close circle of cardinals, bishops, and other aides (who are always in on every conspiracy-of-the-week bandied about by these folks). As I wrote in my first article about coronavirus supposedly being God’s judgment, over three weeks ago:
[T]he arch-enemy “bad guy” and antichrist, Pope Francis, [is] walking the streets of Rome virus-free thus far.
After all, God struck down kings; He (the same God Who did all that stuff as revealed in the inspired revelation of the Old Testament) can dispose of a supposedly wicked, evil pope just as easily. If Pope Francis were one-tenth as bad as the mountain of lies and calumnies and scurrilous slander about him would have it, arguably he should have [biblically] been devastated by God and eaten by worms (or some similar such horrible fate) no later than five years ago.
Instead, we’re told that God is going after Italians, as particularly wicked. The fact, of course, is that this is a worldwide pandemic, that knows no boundaries of any kind. Now, who are the people suffering from this supposed “judgment” or “wrath” from God in Italy (as of 3-18-20)?:
More than 99% of Italy’s coronavirus fatalities were people who suffered from previous medical conditions, according to a study by the country’s national health authority. . . .
The Rome-based institute has examined medical records of about 18% of the country’s coronavirus fatalities, finding that just three victims, or 0.8% of the total, had no previous pathology. Almost half of the victims suffered from at least three prior illnesses and about a fourth had either one or two previous conditions.
More than 75% had high blood pressure, about 35% had diabetes and a third suffered from heart disease.
The median age of the infected is 63 but most of those who die are older . . . The average age of those who’ve died from the virus in Italy is 79.5. As of March 17, 17 people under 50 had died from the disease. All of Italy’s victims under 40 have been males with serious existing medical conditions.
Please note very carefully what this entails: we’re told that God is judging via the coronavirus. The biggest sin and alleged precipitating cause for this occurred in Italy. But did God go after the very ones who allegedly committed it (the pope, cardinals, bishops, and those who agreed with their acts?).
No, not at all. Instead, we’re to believe an absurd, amoral scenario whereby God looked around for elderly people (average age of the dead: 79.5 years), and particularly those who already had two or three other diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease), and killed them. These are the people God in His omnipotence and providence decided to judge and kill by His wrath. That is supposedly just and loving.
My friend, Margie Prox Sindelar rendered her opinion of this kind of “reasoning” on my Facebook page today:
But if He did [judge the world, what about], abortion? fornication? homosexuality? sex trafficking, child abuse scandals, all of that is okay? No chastisements . . . But our Holy Father allows others to come and express the faith ways foreign to most and He chastises the world for that?
My friend, Fr. Angel Sotelo added:
Exactly. “God is mad at us because of the synod, so He’s going to kill some people who had nothing to do with the Amazon Synod.”
Today Our Lord suffered His bitter agony for love of sinners, and this is how we preach the message of redemption?
How pathetic that COVID-19 has to be enlisted in the anti-Francis campaign of Church politics. Next thing, they’ll be blaming heart disease and autism on Pope Francis!
Some folks here are holding a nasty grudge against the people they think that God hates, and need God to be their hit man. . . .
Whipping up the “groupies” to think that God is punishing the world because of Pope Francis–that is just thrusting the spear into the side of Christ.
I can’t believe how many people jumped on the bandwagon to say that COVID-19 is God’s way of getting even for the Amazon Synod. Reading that post made me livid, and then very sad.
I think there are over 12,000 dead from the virus [it’s now 18,122 in the US and 101,732 worldwide]. What must their loved ones think when Catholics call this a punishment from God? If Catholics think that God would kill innocent people for the problems in the Church, I wonder which God they are praying to?
So God specifically targets for judgment elderly people (we’re talking usually 80 or above), almost always with serious underlying conditions. These are the poor souls dying like flies from the virus. All the research verifies it. That is God’s judgment, so we’re told, and it has to be because of this fiction about supposed “Pachamama” idolatry. That’s not the God I have served and loved for 43 years now. It’s blasphemy to think so.
It’s two outrageous lies in one: one goes after God Himself and logically entails (i.e., actually thought through, which probably never happened) that He is a moral monster; the second asserts that the pope is a rank heretic and idolater (because truly sanctioning and worshiping an idol would entail both).
Whatever theology of judgment the people saying these outrages have, has to be laid out and explained, but they don’t do that. They simply assert that it’s because of Pachamama. I’ve already written twice at length about it [one / two], providing lots of Scripture regarding judgment, and I’ve written much about God’s judgments elsewhere, again including copious citation of Scripture, as is my usual custom.
When God judged in Scripture, almost always He targeted a specific group of sinners or judged an entire country (or the whole world, in the case of Noah), with roughly equal suffering for all involved. Neither scenario is the case with this. It is simply acting like a virus acts: and the weakest are taken out. It’s nature; not God’s nature . . .
Two years ago, in a deal brokered by disgraced (and now former) Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the Vatican agreed to allow the evil and murderous Chinese Communist government to select the bishops for China. This, in effect, threw the always faithful “underground and unofficial” Catholic Church under the bus; it entailed that the Vatican would no longer partner with it, but with the murderous State instead. In fact, the faithful were told by the Vatican to abandon their bishops and parishes and join the Official State Church.
Where did COVID-19 come from? China.
First of all, regarding Pope Francis and China, there is more than merely one reactionary, anti-Francis opinion about that. See:
Secondly, this is yet another blasphemous lie: that God is also judging because (so the theory goes) the pope and McCarrick abandoned Chinese Christians. So who does God go after in retribution for that? Not Pope Francis, the alleged perpetrator, or Sex Pervert McCarrick (who rests safely in isolation) but . . . the Chinese (!): most of whom, no doubt (i.e., among the victims), are not even Christians: 3,340 deaths there. That’s God’s judgment and wrath, you see!
Does that make any sense? No! It’s certainly not consistent with the God revealed in the inspired revelation of the Bible and is literally blasphemous (how ironic, in the midst of a false charge that the pope and bishops were supposedly committing sacrilegious idolatry). If this is the nature of the God Whom Christians serve, count me out. I’m gone yesterday.
Thankfully, it is not the God I know and the true God revealed in the Bible. He is fair and just in His judgments: terrible though they may sometimes seem from our perspective. If He judges a nation, it’s because most of the entire nation has gone astray, and are ripe for judgment, as part of the collective.
God judges wicked nations (including His own chosen people, several times). When virtually the whole world became wicked in the time of Noah, He judged it, too. What He doesn’t do, on the other hand, is judge people who had nothing to do with one alleged sin, for that sin. He judges individuals or relatively smaller groups for their own sins.
But what we see from the statistics of coronavirus fatalities, is that, according to this tin foil hat myth, the wickedest people who are being judged far disproportionately compared to others, are elderly people over 80 with existing serious medical conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure or kidney problems or heart disease.
These are the folks God is looking to kill for the sins of the world. He wants them to die in despair, even apart from loved ones, gasping for air and in a delirious state of mind. They must be wiped out for others’ sins, so we can get back to normal and our own idols of money and worship of our own foolish pride and divisiveness and endless rumormongering. Yeah, makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? This is flat-out blasphemy, to believe such a thing about the God of the Bible.
There are plenty of very widespread sins that God might conceivably judge (and on a very wide scale): abortion, homosexual acts, economic exploitation, making riches or power into an idol, pornography, sexual trafficking, drug dealing, sexual abuse, terrorism, racial and ethnic prejudice, sexism, on and on and on.
He could incinerate the United States to ashes in the next hour and we could say nothing in our defense: due to abortion alone; not even getting into many other serious sins we commit and even sanction by unjust, immoral laws. It would be perfectly just for Him to do so.
But none of that is mentioned when today’s would-be / wannabe prophets talk about God’s wrath; rather, only one ceremony which they never understood in the first place; which was a Catholic ceremony, without any idolatry at all.
In January of 2019, the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, signed a law that made abortion legal until the day of birth in the 9th month. In other words, he legalized infanticide.
The United States became the world-wide epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, and New York is ground zero.
It’s the same fallacies repeated again and applied to New York. If the Governor and the legion of pro-abort liberals in New York are to blame for the supposed judgment, then why aren’t they being specifically taken out by God? As I explained, when God judges, according to the Bible, not my arbitrary speculations, it is either an entire nation (or state, in this case), indiscriminately, or it is a specifically targeted group of people.
The Governor isn’t on his sick bed, dying. Why? He signed these abominable, heartless bills. So why isn’t he judged (according to the theory that Fr. Martins posits)? Instead, over 7,600 New Yorkers have been “judged” by God. And who is it that God particularly focused on? Well, it’s the same as everywhere else, as regards the elderly and those already very ill. But it’s also true that Latinos and African-Americans are dying at a greatly disproportionate rate (that fits in great with the KKK view: God takes out “inferior” minorities more than others):
The death rate from Covid-19 for black and Latino New Yorkers is roughly twice that of white New Yorkers, according to the latest city data. The death rate among Latino New Yorkers is 22.8 for every 100,000 people. Among African Americans, it is 19.8. In contrast, 10.2 of every 100,000 white New Yorkers has died from the new coronavirus.
The numbers, which were released on Wednesday, are based on 63 percent of confirmed Covid-19 deaths in New York City. They are consistent with reporting from Louisiana, Illinois, Milwaukee, and Michigan, as well as preliminary national data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which show that black people are dying in greater numbers from the virus.
To both the people of God and my brother priests: we need to make reparation for the sins of the Church. . . . Blasphemy in the Bible was a crime whose punishment was always death.
Fr. Martins ought to start with himself (with all due respect). He neither teaches nor edifies anyone with this conspiratorial nonsense. He blasphemes God with groundless speculation about His alleged judgment and wrath, that has no biblical basis whatsoever (hence he didn’t seek to prove it with a single Bible verse), and he blasphemes the pope as well (the word blasphemy includes wrong attitudes towards holy things and holy people as well as God).
Bearing false witness is in the Ten Commandments and is mortal sin. There is plenty in this regrettable Facebook post that Fr. Martins ought to repent for in dust and ashes. I pray that God will open his eyes and correct his multitude of errors soon, because we see how many people he is leading astray.
For follow-up discussion, see: Dialogue: Is Coronavirus the Way that God Judges? [4-13-20].
Photo credit: Kildare Cathedral, Ireland, before its reconstruction in the late 1800s [Wikimedia Commons / no known copyright restrictions]