Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker took it upon himself to make the salvation of our immortal souls constitutionally subordinate to the authority of the government. This is wrong and illegal.
On March 23, Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker declared a public health emergency relating to COVID-19. He created a list of businesses and organizations he believes provide “essential services” and ordered all non-essential businesses to cease in-person operations. Constitutional freedoms derived from the Bill of Rights are not among the list of essential services, including the freedom to worship according to our consciences.
In Massachusetts, I can stand in a line of 200 people at a liquor store to buy a bottle of Maker’s Mark, but I am not afforded the same reasonable accommodations in the same-sized building across the street to receive the Sacraments of my salvation as a practicing Roman Catholic.
Last week, a federal judge in Massachusetts ruled that Baker “had no jurisdiction” to exclude gun shops from his list of “essential services,” stating that doing so “infringes on people’s rights to buy a firearm.” Judge Douglas Woodlock approved a preliminary injunction against the state, which went into effect on May 9.
Numerous governors have made similar rules that discriminate against natural rights, and they are being rightfully challenged in the courts. Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove issued a temporary restraining order against Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear for his enforcement of bans on “any in-person religious service which adheres to applicable social distancing and hygiene guidelines.”
Sacraments Are More Important Than Mortal Life
The banning of in-person religious services presents a spiritual crisis for 1.8 million Roman Catholics in Massachusetts affected by Baker’s executive orders. The properties of Catholic Sacraments cannot be received through the television or other media sources. They must be received in person.
Through apostolic succession, Catholic priests have the power to confer Sacraments that contain properties of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. Without the reception of the sanctifying grace contained in Sacraments, Catholics are deprived of spiritual food necessary to fight off temptations to engage in the commission of mortal sin.
The properties of divinity in sanctifying grace ferment in our soul to affect how we think and act. They are the tools of our conversion and sanctification. Sacraments keep the devil suppressed in the lives of those who know how to use their power. Sacraments seed vocations, save marriages, and keep people from addictions. They are the power behind the efficacy of everything Catholics undertake or forbear.
Limitless Infringements on Constitutional Rights
Sacramental deprivation has serious and potentially life-changing effects upon the spiritual welfare, and in fact, the eternal salvation of Catholics. Yet numerous governors have completely ignored Americans’ constitutional rights to religious exercise in their shutdown orders. Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois recently announced he may even prohibit churches from opening for up to a year or more.
Timelines in Massachusetts are even more disturbing. A recent webinar conducted by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston predicted compliance with Baker’s orders would delay a return of religious civil liberties “two years or more.”
Alleged milestones that “must be met for any consideration of opening up” include a complete eradication of any symptom present in any kind of influenza and requirements for priests to set up “robust medical facilities” in every parish to take temperatures and conduct immunity testing. Even after meeting criteria of all three phases of the federal COVID response team, Sacraments may not resume due to the possibility of reactivation and resurgence. O’Malley speculated that “parish closures would go on forever.”