In May, a Catholic bishop in East Texas signed a letter from Catholic leaders around the globe condemning the worldwide response to the coronavirus as a foundation for governmental overreach and infringement on personal liberty.
Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler added his name to an appeal to “Catholics and all people of good will” outlining several grim predictions about how the coronavirus pandemic will be used as a license to advance a “world government beyond all control.”
In a statement to The Texan, Bishop Strickland said, “Certainly this highly contagious virus needs to be mitigated effectively, but this mitigation must be undertaken with great care for our precious freedoms and fundamental human rights. Those rights come from God.”
The appeal is located on a website that appears to have been created specifically for the document. The site is called “Veritas Liberabit Vos,” which is Latin for “The truth will set you free.”
The open letter was signed by almost two dozen Catholic leaders, including Strickland and Bishop Rene H. Gracida, a former bishop of the Diocese of Corpus Christi.
It decries bunk science that according to the signers was used to justify inducing panic and violating natural law.
“Public health must not, and cannot, become an alibi for infringing on the rights of millions of people around the world[…]” the open letter reads.
“This is particularly true as growing doubts emerge from several quarters about the actual contagiousness, danger and resistance of the virus. Many authoritative voices in the world of science and medicine confirm that the media’s alarmism about COVID-19 appears to be absolutely unjustified,” the bishops claim.
These Catholic leaders are not the only ones alleging that news providers can frighten the public for political reasons.
Recently, outlets such as NBC News have come under fire after highlighting fears of contagion at rallies for President Trump’s reelection campaign while not emphasizing similar concerns for mass protests over police violence.
The letter also underscores the economic damage of coronavirus-related restrictions, saying that the table has been set for “interference by foreign powers.”
The bishops urged readers to be wary of the influence that the technology sector has during a time of social distancing.
“Let us not allow centuries of Christian civilization to be erased under the pretext of a virus, and an odious technological tyranny to be established, in which nameless and faceless people can decide the fate of the world by confining us to a virtual reality,” they said.
An exhaustive list of the document’s signatories is not currently available, although the website provides a scrolling list of medical professionals, teachers, attorneys, association leaders, and others who are said to have signed the appeal, including Jim Graham of Texas Right to Life.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus has killed 1,983 Texans, according to the state’s official tally.
The Diocese of Tyler took steps to prevent the spread of the virus among churchgoers. Strickland suspended public masses on March 17, and the diocese said on April 29 they would reopen under the direction of state guidelines.
“Due to the concerns about the virus and the prudent directives regarding social distancing, I believe this is a necessary step. Please pray with me that these steps will help to minimize the impact of this disease on our communities,” Strickland said in March.
23 percent of adults in Texas identified as Catholic in 2014, according to the latest Pew Research Center data.
The center’s research also reveals that 34 percent of Catholic Texans described themselves as conservative, 33 percent said they were moderate, and 25 percent identified as liberal.
Bishop Strickland’s full statement to The Texan can be found below.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.