This short March 14 ABC6 story by Nick Pappadia didn’t have much of a shelf life, but it’s worth noting because it is a good study of underlying assumptions underlying and the way in which a sense of what must be believed spreads:
Despite Governor Gina Raimondo’s advice, urging all Rhode Islanders to stay indoors as much as possible and to avoid crowds, Bishop Tobin has not officially cancelled Mass services for Catholic’s in Rhode Island.
On Saturday morning, Bishop Tobin released a statement requesting Catholics over the age of 60 not to attend Mass, and to refrain from receiving Holy Communion. There was no mention of him cancelling mass for all Catholic parishioners.
Governor Raimondo said, “I’d like to thank Bishop Tobin for his cooperation, and that it is within local pastor’s discretion to cancel masses on their own.”
Since then, we have learned that many local priests have taken matters in to their own hands and have cancelled Mass services at their individual parishes.
Bishop Tobin did not impose a restriction from the top down, and pastors who cancelled services were “taking matters into their own hands.” No, they were choosing one of the options open to them. The assumption appears to be that things are and should be typically dictated from the top down.
More deeply than that, notice the hierarchy in Pappadia’s construct: The governor to the bishop to the parishes. Fundamentally, this means there is no real separation of church and state, because the bishop is in some sense obligated to follow the governor’s “advice.” When he doesn’t do so, he is implicitly hinting that he prefers the opposite outcome, so when priests follow the governor’s advice rather than this supposed hint, they are actually rebelling… even though they’re acting within the bishop’s range of instructions.
Many fascinating perspectives are being revealed during these times.