Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the Dean of the Cardinals, was asked by Corriere.it (May 17) what he says to those faithful whose relatives died without a priest and a funeral because of the coronavirus.
Re immediately to took refuge in doublespeak, “God wants all human beings to be saved.”
The presence of a priest doesn’t make any difference for him, “God was close to our departed loved ones and offered each one the possibility of reconciliation with Him, even if there was no priest to absolve.”
Re sees the priest only as a facilitator for the surviving relatives, “The tragic aspect of the situation was terrible for the family.”
For the one who dies, the absence of a priest was “less” tragic, “At the moment of the passing away, even if surrounded by relatives and friends, one is always alone.”
But not even this is a problem, because those who died find themselves “immediately afterwards in the immensity of God's love."
In other words: Cardinal Re’s life as a priest was a waste of time.
Picture: Giovanni Battista Re, © Wikicommons, CC BY-SA, #newsNjksgmgsvc
Cardinal Re has to be right. I need only think about the thousands who during WWII found a watery grave in the Pacific or a fiery death in bombers over Europe; Grissom, White, and Chaffee atop Apollo 1, or the thousands crushed to death in the WTC on 9/11 to rule out the absurdity that their final reward was influenced by lack or presence of a priest. God is not that arbitrary.