ROME, ITALY / ACCESSWIRE / June 29, 2022 / After two years of COVID-19 policies, an International group of Catholic scholars and lawyers gathered under the auspices of the International Catholic Jurists Forum (ICJF) to study the theme "Aquinas, Law & Politics in Times of COVID," 24-25 June 2022.They reflected upon how society managed the crisis in the fields of law, politics, and religion with a view to publishing their findings.
Based on the Catholic intellectual tradition, the purpose of the meeting was to underline what needs to be done in the future to better safeguard the rule of subsidiarity, fundamental human rights, especially the freedom of religion and conscience, expression, assembly, and movement as well as democratic processes per se and unity of family life.
To this end, the group discussed how the pandemic affected the functioning of Western political systems, how it changed our thinking about democracy, and how it influenced the life of the Church, when rights to exercise religious freedom and freedom of conscience were restricted. Issues regarding Church leadership during times of COVID-19 were also discussed.
NOTE: Institutional affiliations are given for identification only. Statements made are those of the writers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the institutions.
Professor Iain Benson, Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame, School of Law, Sydney, Australia, said:
"This conference was superbly conceived and highly useful. Involving scholars and practitioners from many countries, the differences in relation to Covid and conscience experienced globally were outweighed by the remarkable commonality of threats, coercion, manufactured fear, compulsory vaccine mandates and exaggerated "emergencies" which unduly restricted the freedoms of citizens around the world causing untold hardship and ongoing damage.
What was learned at the international meeting was not only what happened around the world between 2020 and 2022 but what must not be allowed to happen again. Wide-spread reforms are needed both with respect to what constitutes "emergencies" but what restrictions must be placed in order that appropriate democratic and judicial reviews exist to protect necessary freedoms in future."
Reverend Piotr Mazurkiewicz, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institute of Political Science, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Warsaw, Poland; Author, "Religious Freedom in Time of the Pandemic"(2021), stated:
"There is a real question about the extent to which the pandemic has changed the way Western democracies function. Theoretically, there is a possibility of transforming liberal democracy into totalitarian democracy (J.L. Talmon). The essence of totalitarianism is when a government takes complete control, not only over the external behaviors of citizens, but also over their inner life - the way they think and evaluate the world. Through technology, the means to achieve total control over society no longer rests with ‘naked violence.' Governments can take control over communication and educational systems with the possibility of excluding dissenting voices from public debate. Some Western governments have attempted to achieve just that through an informational monopoly over health policy. The fact that citizens often value security more than freedom makes it easier for them to succumb to health security propaganda."
Charles LiMandri, Esq., LiMandri & Jonna, LLP emphasized that:
"The governments' shuttering of the churches during the COVID pandemic taught us that we can no longer take for granted the precious freedom to practice our faith. Too many of us, including our religious leaders, placed blind and undeserved trust in politicians and their so-called experts, who told us they knew what was best for us. In the United States, we took the fight to reopen the churches to the courts, and eventually won back our right to worship over the restrictive government mandates. The United States Supreme Court agreed with us that the freedom to attend church services is at least as "essential" as any secular activity that the government favored to remain open. Let us never again willingly surrender our religious liberty to government bureaucrats who would place secular interests over our freedom to worship together in church."
Christopher Ferrara, Esq., Thomas More Society, USA said:
"COVID regimes are examples of the "state of exception" (Giorgio Agamben) that has become a technique of government in Western democracies. The idea of a good citizen as an active person, who works responsibly in the public square with others for the common good and the promotion of virtue as the end of law, has been replaced by a passive person, whose mere biological existence (‘bare life') is the ground of politics. In the ‘state of exception' where rights are merely conventions that can be easily suspended, Agamben's ‘hidden paradigm' of the new democracy as a ‘concentration camp,' in various disguises, has been manifested in the COVID detention facilities in Australia and Canada."
Dr. Fulvio Di Blasi, Di Blasi Law Firm, Italy; Editor, "Pandemia: Invito al Confronto" (Phronesis: 2022); Author, The Death of the Phronimos: Faith and Truth about Anti Covid Vaccines (2021), "Vaccino Come Atto D'Amore? Epistemologia della Scelta Etica in Tempi di Pandemia" (2022), stated:
"Italian management of the pandemic, both before and after the advent of so-called anti-COVID-19 vaccines, was in defiance of the most basic principles of the Italian Constitution. Something similar, has occurred in other Western states. There are many reasons for the contention that we, as a society, are facing a turning point in the history of fundamental rights and freedoms. In democratic regimes there is a real question whether fundamental human rights can be protected effectively in the face of unchecked unconstitutional processes."
Dr. Janet Smith, Former Professor of Theology, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, Michigan; Author, Morality of the Covid-19 Vaccines, NCR (2020); and Fake Theology Behind the Vaccine Mandates, Crisis Magazine (2021), said:
"Given the trajectory of what has been happening to our democratic processes and the freedom of religion. It is worth considering the definition of a ‘lie' within the Catholic tradition, not only to properly evaluate certain government health policies, but in anticipation of the health police at our doorsteps investigating whether we are hiding unvaccinated Christians."
Dr. Grégor Puppinck underlined, and Dr. Jane Adolphe, Professor of Law, Ave Maria School of Law, Adjunct Professor, University of Notre Dame, School of Law, Sydney, Australia, Founder & Executive Director, International Catholic Jurists Forum, Naples, Florida, concurred:
"It is essential that the Church fight to defend the freedom of ‘God's children' in the face of increasingly empowered financial, technological, and political actors in the field of global governance. The Church, even when weak, is the only true counter-power to the world."
Dr. Douglas Farrow, Professor of Theology and Ethics, School of Religious Studies, McGill University, Montreal; Author of many articles on COVID published in Catholic World Report, Crisis Magazine, Convivium, First Things etc. underlined that:
"Many churches in the West have failed their spiritual covid test. They carried a high viral load of fear-fear of sickness, fear of man, fear of death-and displayed low levels of spiritual antibodies. The gospel of freedom from fear was rarely preached in a way that challenged secular powers or popular sentiment."
Dr. Robert Fastiggi, Professor of Dogmatic Theology, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, Michigan, highlighted that:
"The meeting was important, especially due to some of the measures adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic that failed to respect the consciences of those, who for a variety of reasons, did not desire to be vaccinated. The question is not about being opposed to vaccinations per se, but about being in full agreement with the ‘Note on the Morality of Some Anti-COVID-19 Vaccines' (12.21.2020) penned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) that receipt of vaccines should be voluntary."
Michael Vacca, Director of Ministry, Bioethics, and Membership Experience for Christ Medicus Foundation CURO, Michigan, Director, International Catholic Jurists Forum, Naples, Florida said:
"For many citizens, COVID policies provoked issues of conscience, which were largely ignored by governments, as they strong-armed blind obedience to certain irrational and unjust health policies. The situation was aggravated for Catholics, who, while grappling with these issues, turned to certain Church leaders only to receive more of the same. We need to pray for Our Shepherds to develop a fundamental Catholic response, rooted in the cultivation of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the ‘Divine Physician,' access to the sacraments as well as knowledge of Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium."
# # #
Professor of Law
SOURCE: International Catholic Jurists Forum