Fr. Mario Alexis Portella: The Romans Have Taken the Lord (Again)

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By Fr. Mario Alexis Portella, Crisis Magazine, March 13, 2020

Fr. Mario Alexis Portella is a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy. He was born in New York and holds a doctorate in canon law and civil law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. He is the author of Islam: Religion of Peace?—The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up (Westbow Press, 2018).


Fr. Mario Alexis Portella“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t not know where they have laid him.” Such were the words, as recorded in the Gospel of John, of Mary Magdalene when she ran up to Simon Peter and John after she had gone to venerate the body of Jesus and found the tomb empty, not knowing that He had risen from the dead. Such was the feeling of many of us priests and faithful when the Archbishop of Florence, Giuseppe Cardinal Betori, in compliance with the Coronavirus Decree issued by the Italian government on March 8, emailed every priest and religious that Sunday morning saying that all public Masses, including funerals, would be suspended until April 3.

The churches remain open for the faithful to pray in, but it is not clear why worship—specifically the celebration of the Mass—is forbidden if celebrated prudently: prior to the decree, people were asked to sit in the pews at least three feet from each other. The irony, if not the contradiction, is that Masses can be celebrated behind closed doors in churches, monasteries, and convents, but the faithful cannot attend; if they ask to receive Holy Communion, however, they cannot be denied. If that is the case, why not celebrate Mass? Perhaps it is because the decision-makers do not share the understanding of the particular purpose of the Mass. As the ancient martyrs used to say, Sine Dominica non possumus. Without Sunday—that is, the Eucharist—we cannot live.  ….


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