Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has been pushing his “Free the Mass” movement and wrote about it in First Things, which I must admit has some really excellent articles up right now. I applaud Abp. Cordileone’s efforts to resist the secular progressivism he is surrounded by.

But a few things he said worried me.

 As the lockdown dragged on, I began to get unhappy messages from faithful friends asking why I didn’t just defy the health rules. “Storm the Cathedral and take it back!” one particularly passionate member of my flock told me. What was I, their archbishop, doing

Mostly, I was pleading with public officials behind the scenes. San Francisco is a secular city. The city health orders were inflicting spiritual and psychological suffering on my people, but I couldn’t rely on city officials to intuitively understand this. I needed to explain the safety protocols and show officials the data proving that they work. The right to infect others is not a right I wanted to stand behind. I wanted not only to protect public health but also to be seen as doing so. Under these extraordinary circumstances I had to assume goodwill and make my case thoroughly and repeatedly.  

Here’s my question: Why assume good will when you know that is not how their actions are intended? He points out several times in his excellent piece how city council is directly targeting Catholics but then assumes their good will.

He literally says that the city council is “inflicting spiritual and psychological suffering” on Catholics on purpose but still, he pretends to assume good will. Why? I honestly don’t understand that. 

The second idea in that section is even more important. He says, “I wanted not only to protect public health but also to be seen as doing so.”

Seen as doing so. 

Here he makes it clear that presenting an image to people is important. Modeling behavior is crucial. But his prioritization seems misplaced. He’s attempting to impress the politicians and bureaucrats while essentially dismissing the “particularly passionate member of my flock” as misguided.

I applaud Archbishop Cordileone’s efforts. He has done so much more than countless priests, bishops, and Cardinals. 

But I plead with all of them right now. Catholics need a hero. The faithful are calling out to the clergy for one perhaps ridiculous and fruitless effort to show how important the eucharist truly is. The American Church is desperate for some action. 

Catholicism must be heroic, brave, and countercultural. Or it is nothing. 

There’s a time for lawyers and press conferences and petitions. This is not that time. Now is the time Catholics must be willing to draw a line in the sand and say here, and no further. Open the Churches. Don’t allow them to be closed. Let’s be willing to go to jail. Let’s be fools for Christ. Take a stand.

Imagine the impact of seeing a priest put in jail for celebrating Mass. Yes, the media would ridicule that priest. Perhaps many in the Church would as well. But it would inspire millions to understand that ours is not a passive faith. We are different because we believe. Think of all the young men who might see that and be inspired.

Force the secularists to put a priest, bishop, or cardinal in jail or rescind their anti-Catholic mandates. Force them to unmask themselves. Show the world who they really are. And let’s show the world who we are. 

I’m reminded of this line from Animal House:

Otter: I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.
Bluto: And we’re just the guys to do it.
D-Day: Let’s do it.
BlutoLET’S DO IT!!