Vatican Drops Word 'God' from COVID Documents to Reach 'Widest Possible Audience'
Christians outraged as official docs scrub 'Jesus Christ, church, prayer, and charity'
The Vatican has triggered outrage among Christians after publishing official documents on the COVID-19 pandemic that scrub words such as "God," "Jesus Christ," "prayer," and even "charity" from the text.
The Catholic Church has defended the recently released documents, arguing that they didn’t mention Christianity-linked words in an effort to reach “the widest possible audience.”
Published by the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAL) on July 22, the first 8-page document is titled: “Humana Communitas in the Age of Pandemic: Untimely Meditations on Life’s Rebirth.”
“We are interested in entering into human situations, reading them in the light of faith, and in a way that speaks to the widest possible audience, to believers and non-believers, to all men and women ‘of good will,’” PAL spokesman Fabrizio Mastrofini said about the move.
“I do not know, at this point, whether a philological ‘accounting’ work on how many times a few key words recur in a text is useful,” Mastrofini said in response to an article published by New Daily Compass on July 31.
“Your readers are entitled to know something else: the criticism of the lack of the terms God, faith, religion, was first put forward by an American website, then repeated by Spanish websites, and finally also in Italy by some passionate blogger,” he argues, failing to explain how that fact was of any relevance.
Phil Lawler of Catholic Word News had called the document shortly after its release on July 22 a “shocking Vatican perspective on the pandemic” and “an embarrassment to the Catholic faithful.”
According to Lawler, a well-respected Catholic journalist, even the title of the document “is misleading; the document provides very little hard information.
"But I will grant this much: it is ‘untimely.’
"There is never a good time for this sort of vapid rumination.”
“Despite stretching to well over 4,000 words, the Vatican document does not mention God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the sacraments, prayer, or even charity; even the word ‘Christian’ does not appear in the text,” Lawler summarized.
“There is admittedly a call for ‘moral conversion,’ but in context it is clearly a call for an ideological rather than religious conversion.”
He said that the Vatican should send a Christian message – which he suggested would have happened in times past, when “the Pontifical Academy for Life might have urged us not to be paralyzed by fear of sickness and death, nor to regard any interaction with neighbors as a dangerous imposition.”
While the document “makes a weak gesture in that direction,” it does not offer practical advice for regular Catholics, instead, making “a grandiose call for worldwide solidarity and international cooperation, stipulating that the World Health Organization should have a ‘privileged place’ in the campaign.”
“Nowhere in the document is it mentioned that God is our final end, that Christ is our hope, and that we need the grace of the Holy Spirit for both our moral conversion and a good moral life,” she wrote.
"Nowhere is the Church – the dispenser of the sacraments as a source of grace – mentioned either.
"In passing over these in silence, in what way does the Academy’s call for solidarity, equality, and ‘access (to health care) for all without exceptions’ differ from that of secular ideologies?
"This is a document issued from a prestigious body of the Catholic Church, yet there is no mention of Christianity or Christians, let alone Catholics.
"That a document is destined for all men and women is certainly not a reason for bracketing out its Catholic identity or omitting any reference to God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Church."
The Academy attacked Lawler via Twitter, calling his article “a deliberate misunderstanding to produce confusion.”
Lawler, in turn, simply said “they didn’t need my help to produce confusion.
"Their own document did the job nicely.”