By dividing the body of Christ between the vaccinated sheep and the unvaccinated goats, the bishop of Moncton has joined the ranks of heretics and schismatics. I do not use those words lightly.“Unclean! Unclean!” – Catholic World Report
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Thus St. Paul. But wait, says the archbishop of Moncton, the government has explained to us that we are not all one in Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, but there are vaccinated and unvaccinated. And the latter must be eradicated. Meanwhile, they must stay away from Mass, as from funerals, weddings, and every gathering of the church – even baptisms!
The archdiocese, in other words, has joined the provincial health authorities in pursuit of the preposterous COVID-zero fantasy, and handed over to the Ministry of Health the power to decide who participates in the sacramental life and fellowship of the church:
Can we still accept a person who is not vaccinated or has a single dose inside our facilities for a celebration or a meeting? Even with a mask and social distancing? The minister said “no” unless she had proof of exemption, which is rare. We ask you to implement these new measures in each of your Christian communities not only to respect the government’s request but above all to help stop the spread of the virus among our population. We would not want one of our places of worship to be the location of a COVID exposure due to our negligence. The Minister of Health is counting on our cooperation.
Moncton, for those who don’t know, is in New Brunswick, where COVID has taken less than fifty people to meet their Maker in the past year and a half. That’s a whopping 0.006 percent of the population. So it’s perfectly obvious why the government would ask “faith communities” to ban the unvaccinated from their gatherings and equally obvious why Mgr Valery Vienneau would lend his imprimatur to that.
You don’t think so? Well, let me explain.
On the part of the state, it’s not so puzzling. Yes, we know that from Israel and elsewhere that vaccination is no guarantee at all against infection or transmission or (in those few who by reason of advanced age or multiple co-morbidities are especially vulnerable) even death. So this is not “a pandemic of the unvaccinated” and there’s no good reason to exclude the unvaccinated. Indeed, it’s not a pandemic at all, unless it’s a pandemic of vaccine injuries. Mark my words, of this much more will soon be said and those coercing, including bishops, will be held liable. But we need not speak of it here, for it’s not to the point.
What is to the point? The vaxpass system itself, which (as I have explained in The Emerging Nowa Huta) is laying the foundation for a QR-coded society in which bio-surveillance and bio-tinkering are the norm. And those behind this system can easily see that the churches will either baptize the system or prove a bastion of resistance to it. So after eighteen months of brutal conditioning, they’ve asked nicely that we get on with that baptism and lock out the resisters. The rest, as Archbishop Vienneau informs us, will be able to drop all those onerous conditioning measures.
On the part of the churches, then, it’s not all that complicated either. Saying no is difficult, especially when the government promises it won’t bully you any more so long as you cooperate. And if you buy that, you probably buy also its assurances that the vaccines are safe and effective, together with its lies about the threat posed by the unvaccinated. So it just seems prudent to lock them out. “Unclean! Unclean!”
Enough of this, however. I will say frankly what must be said. By dividing the body of Christ between the vaccinated sheep and the unvaccinated goats, sending the latter away into the desert, the bishop of Moncton has joined the ranks of heretics and schismatics. I do not use those words lightly. Any bishop who does likewise must also be counted among their number.
Here it is worth observing that, faced with a similar demand, Bishop Alleyne of Guyana has declined to divide his flock. He has simply closed his churches. In doing so, he makes several serious errors and miscalculations of his own. First, he attempts to substitute virtual for actual worship, as if there were such a thing as the former. One seeks to commune virtuously, but one cannot commune virtually. Second, he overlooks the fact that vaccine passports are not a temporary but a permanent feature of government plans. So he won’t be able to reopen his churches when “case” numbers subside. Third, he concedes to Caesar what does not belong to Caesar, and so takes from God, and the people of God, what belongs to God.
This is a major failure of nerve and a grave dereliction of episcopal duty, for which he will be accountable to God. But at least he has chosen to deny his flock rather than to divide his flock. The bishop of Moncton, on the other hand, has divided his flock. Anyone who does that is subject to the retort of Paul: “I wish those who unsettle you,” by insisting on stipulations not contained in the gospel, “would mutilate themselves!”
Do you think this language uncharitable? It is Paul’s, not mine. It is God-breathed language, used by an apostle of Jesus Christ to confront those who seek to divide the flock of God. A sounder objection would be that Paul’s advice is difficult to follow when the requisite members are already missing. But let me defend my own language.
“Schism” cannot be denied, notwithstanding that in Rome, alas, things appear to be tending in the same direction. At the local level, division in Moncton is already de iure and by Wednesday will be de facto, unless the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (whose annual meeting is taking place this week) were to persuade Mgr Vienneau to reconsider. A more likely outcome there, however, is division between the bishops themselves, some taking the Moncton route and others refusing to do so.
It’s schism either way, unless Rome reverses course and issues a decree that such actions are uncanonical, anti-evangelical, and impermissible. If Rome does not, then even unvaccinated clergy (though they can celebrate Mass alone) will be excommunicate in places where the division has been made.
As for “heresy,” the Moncton decree has made sacramental participation dependent, not merely on spiritual worthiness but on a physical condition, on the absence of a putative health handicap. Or perhaps we should say: on a political condition and on the absence of a technological handicap. For anyone who cannot or will not present proof of vaccination status is to be denied entry to the assembly of the faithful that takes place in the presence of angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven.
This is not only novel but most certainly heretical. The rightly ordered soul renders every baptized person who is not canonically disqualified fit for that communion. But any alteration of canon law to impose a bodily condition would be an alteration of the faith itself. And any bishop (even the bishop of Rome) who claims the right to exclude the faithful by personal fiat is acting acting against the faith and against canon law. To act thus at the government’s fiat is equally to deny the faith and indeed compounds the denial. For in the church of the living God, the state has no authority, and can have no authority, over the sacraments.
I know that the bishops in question do not mean to be heretical. Few heretics do. Nor, in most cases, do they mean to be schismatic. Yet they are both schismatic and heretical. If the churches do not draw the line, right here and right now, between church and state, but prefer instead to draw a line between brother and brother, then has come upon us what Cyril of Jerusalem predicted: “I fear the schisms of the Churches. I fear the mutual hatred of the brethren… God forbid that it should be fulfilled in our days; nevertheless, let us be on our guard.”
Since we began with Paul, let us finish with Paul, who publicly confronted not only the local churches but Peter himself – whom God had warned not to call unclean what God had made clean – on this very matter.
This very matter? Vaccination, you will say, is not circumcision. But if circumcision is the testament to belonging under the old covenant, baptism is the testament to belonging under the new. That baptism should be trumped by vaccination, because vaccination has become the state’s new testament to belonging, is an outrage to all that is holy. “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? … For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”