Following the latest review of the restrictions by the Public Health Authorities, the Bishop has instructed that churches may reopen for private prayer as from this coming Monday.
For the moment, public Masses and liturgies remain suspended until the Authorities indicate that it is safe to do resume them.
Bishop Zammit encourages everyone to cooperate with the lockdown guidelines issued by the Public Health Authorities for the good of all, especially the vulnerable.
All our churches are to remain CLOSED (including now also for private prayer)
for the time being, in view of the high number of persons being infected by Covid-19.
A note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was approved by Pope Francis, gives the green light during the pandemic to the use of vaccines produced with cell lines derived from two foetuses aborted in the 1960’s.
“It is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted foetuses in their research and production process.”
Due to the situation of the ongoing pandemic, “all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive.”
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) made these statements in a note signed by the Prefect, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, and the Secretary, Archbishop Giacomo Morandi. The text was explicitly approved by Pope Francis on 17 December and released on Monday.
The CDF document, which was published as many countries are preparing to implement vaccination campaigns, authoritatively intervenes to clarify doubts and questions which have emerged from sometimes contradictory statements on the subject.
The “Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines” recalls three previous pronouncements on the same topic: one from the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) in 2005; the CDF Instruction Dignitas Personae in 2008; and, another note from the PAV in 2017.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says it does not “intend to judge the safety and efficacy” of current vaccines against Covid-19, which is the responsibility of biomedical researchers and drug agencies. Rather, the CDF focuses on the moral aspects of receiving vaccines developed using cell lines from tissue obtained from two foetuses that were aborted in the 1960’s.
The Instruction Dignitas Personae, approved by Pope Benedict XVI, pointed out that “there exist differing degrees of responsibility”, because “in organizations where cell lines of illicit origin are being utilized, the responsibility of those who make the decision to use them is not the same as that of those who have no voice in such a decision.”
Therefore, argues the note published on Monday in summing up the Instruction of 2008, “when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available”, it is “morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted foetuses in their research and production process.”
The CDF says the reason for considering these vaccines morally licit is the “kind of cooperation” in the evil of abortion, which is “remote” on the part of those receiving the vaccine.
Therefore, the “moral duty to avoid such passive material cooperation is not obligatory” since there exists a grave danger, in the form of an “uncontainable spread of a serious pathological agent.”
The Covid-19 pandemic, says the CDF, fulfils this requirement.
“In such a case, all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive.”
Not a legitimation of abortion
The Congregation clarifies that “the morally licit use of these types of vaccines, in the particular conditions that make it so, does not in itself constitute a legitimation, even indirect, of the practice of abortion, and necessarily assumes the opposition to this practice by those who make use of these vaccines.” Nor should it imply a moral approval of the use of cell lines proceeding from aborted foetuses.
The CDF note calls on pharmaceutical companies and government health agencies to “produce, approve, distribute and offer ethically acceptable vaccines that do not create problems of conscience.”
At the same time, the Congregation recalls that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”
The morality of vaccination, it notes, depends both on the duty to protect one’s own health and the pursuit of the common good. “In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed.”
Those who for reasons of conscience reject vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted foetuses, however, must “do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behaviour, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent.”
Distribution to poor countries
Finally, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says it is “a moral imperative” for the pharmaceutical industry, governments, and international organizations to ensure that effective and ethically acceptable vaccines are accessible “to the poorest countries in a manner that is not costly for them.”
“The lack of access to vaccines, otherwise, would become another sign of discrimination and injustice that condemns poor countries to continue living in health, economic and social poverty.”
Following the request from the Public Health Authorities, the Bishop has decreed that all Masses and public liturgies are suspended from Tuesday 22nd December until the 11th January, when the situation will be reviewed.
It is a sad, but necessary step, in the light of the recent exponential increase in Covid cases in Gibraltar.
Many will be disappointed that there will be no Midnight and Christmas Masses this year, but the Bishop is grateful for the cooperation of all.
Let us remain united in prayer this Christmas, as we look forward to better times in 2021.
Our Lady of Europe and St. Bernard, Patrons of Gibraltar, pray for us.
From the Loreto Newsletter:
“In school, we will be talking to the children about this important historical event and working on projects to mark this year over the next 12 months. To get celebrations off to a flying start, Ms Sciacaluga, supported by Mrs Simpson and past-pupil Conor McGibney, have prepared a video treat for you.
With a huge thank you to all the teachers, staff and pupils for taking part, we hope you enjoy the Loreto Convent School response to the Jerusalema Challenge.”
16th December 2020
marks the 175th anniversary of the arrival in Gibraltar of the first Loreto Nuns in Gibraltar. They came here expressly to open a school for Gibraltarian girls, and in fact they opened two. One was a fee-paying school, which was originally situated at Don Place, where the five nuns established their convent. The other, for the poorer children, was set up in a large room at 50 Governor’s Street. Both immediately attracted a large number of pupils.
The party of five nuns were escorted to Gibraltar by the Catholic bishop, Rt Rev Mgr Henry Hughes. They were Mother Angela Kelly, the Mother Superior, and Sister Vincent Clinch, Sister Seraphia Rorke, Sister Placida Byrne and another sister thought to be Sister Josephine Underhill. The eldest of the nuns was just 28 years old.
Thus began the long association between the Loreto Nuns and Gibraltar.
Over the many years that the nuns were at the forefront of education for girls in Gibraltar, while the boys were catered for by the Irish Christian Brothers, the nuns taught in a number of schools.
In 1873, the Loreto nuns opened the Loreto Convent School at Europa Road which is still active today. It is Gibraltar’s oldest school that is still in operation. For many years, and in the period up to the World War II evacuation from Gibraltar, this was a boarding school. Many Spanish families sent their daughters to be educated by the Loreto nuns.
The nuns are fondly remembered by the older members of the community for the many years that they were at the helm of the Loreto Convent School at 6 Convent Place. The former school chapel was converted into an office for Sir Joshua Hassan when the seat of government moved there from Secretary’s Lane.
Indeed the order of the Loreto Nuns was given the Freedom of the City by Gibraltar’s Parliament in 2005. They were the first women to receive this accolade. Today, the spirit of the early nuns who arrived in Gibraltar 175 years ago is kept alive in the Loreto Convent School at Europa Road that continues to thrive.
The events originally planned for this important anniversary have had to be trimmed down hugely because of the Covid 19 coronavirus pandemic. The staff and pupils of the Loreto Convent School will nevertheless mark this milestone internally. It is also expected that a series of messages of congratulations and support will be received from abroad.
In a new Apostolic Letter entitled Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.
The Letter marks the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. To celebrate the anniversary, Pope Francis has proclaimed a special “Year of St Joseph,” beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2020 and extending to the same feast in 2021.
Read more in the article posted on the Vatican website
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
Advent marks a time of spiritual preparation before Christmas
It begins on the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Nov. 30) and spans four Sundays or four weeks unless Christmas falls early.
The historical origins of Advent are hard to determine with great precision. From its earliest form in the 4th century, Advent has always been similar to Lent, with an emphasis on prayer and fasting.
The Gelasian Sacramentary, traditionally attributed to Pope St. Gelasius I (d. 496), was the first to provide Advent liturgies for five Sundays. Later, Pope St. Gregory I (d. 604) enhanced these liturgies composing prayers, antiphons, readings, and responses. Pope St. Gregory VII (d. 1095) later reduced the number of Sundays in Advent to four. Finally, about the ninth century, the Church designated the first Sunday of Advent as the beginning of the Church’s Liturgical Year.
The Catechism stresses the two-fold meaning of this coming : When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Saviour’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming (No. 524).
The importance of this season is therefore to focus on the coming of our Lord. Advent comes from the Latin adventus, meaning coming:
- We REFLECT BACK and are encouraged to celebrate the anniversary of the Lords first coming into this world. We are invited to ponder more deeply into the great mystery of the incarnation when our Lord humbled Himself, taking on our humanity, and entered our time and space to free us from sin.
- We LOOK FORWARD as we recall in the Creed that our Lord will come again to judge the living and the dead and that we must be ready to meet Him.
Our use of the Advent wreathe was inspired by the German Lutherans in the early 1500’s. The wreathe is a circle, which has no beginning or end: In this way, we call to mind how our lives, here and now, participate in the eternity of Gods plan of salvation and how we hope to share eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. The wreathe is made of fresh plant material, because Christ came to give us new life through His passion, death, and resurrection. Three candles are purple (the same colour as the Priest’s vestments in Advent), symbolizing penance, preparation, and sacrifice; the pink candle symbolizes the same but highlights the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, when we rejoice because our preparation is now half-way finished.
The light represents Christ, who entered this world to scatter the darkness of evil and show us the way of righteousness. The progression of lighting candles shows our increasing readiness to meet our Lord. Each family ought to have an Advent wreathe, light it at dinner time, and say the special prayers. This tradition will help each family keep its focus on the true meaning of Christmas. In all, during Advent we strive to fulfil the opening prayer for the Mass of the First Sunday of Advent: