(CNSNews.com) -- Catholic Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American who serves on the highest court at the Vatican, said the coronavirus should be viewed in natural terms and spiritual terms because "great evils like pestilence are an effect of original sin and our actual sins."
God must "repair the disorder which sin introduces into our lives and into our world," he said, and our response to the pandemic must include a consideration of our culture, which kills the unborn through abortion, neglects the elderly, and perverts human sexuality -- God made them male and female -- through "so-called 'gender theory'" and even "violent" sex-change surgery.
Cardinal Burke, in his March 21 Presentation on his website, made clear that people should obey the advice of doctors and public officials about social distancing, washing our hands, and using "every prudent means to avoid contracting or spreading the coronavirus."
However, "in considering what is needed to live, we must not forget that our first consideration is our relationship with God," said the cardinal. Just as we must have access to food and medicine, we also "must be able to pray in our churches and chapels, receive the Sacraments, and engage in acts of public prayer and devotion...."
Given that the Catholic Church has many large chapels and churches, accommodations can be made to ensure that the medical advice is followed, including proper disinfecting of surfaces.
"Without the help of God, we are indeed lost," said Cardinal Burke. "Historically, in times of pestilence, the faithful gathered in fervent prayer and took part in processions. ... Likewise, in the traditional Litany of the Saints, we pray: 'From plague, famine, and war, O Lord, deliver us.'"
Given the separation from public worship (churches closed) and reception of Sacraments such as Holy Communion, caused by the coronavirus, many people are "deeply saddened and discouraged," said the cardinal.
With this in mind, people of faith "cannot consider the present calamity in which we find ourselves without considering also how distant our popular culture is from God. It is not only indifferent to His presence in our midst but openly rebellious toward Him and the good order with which He has created us and sustains us in being."
"We need only think of the commonplace violent attacks on human life, male and female, which God has made in His own image and likeness (Gn 1, 27)," said Cardinal Burke, "attacks on the innocent and defenseless unborn, and on those who have the first title to our care, those who are heavily burdened with serious illness, advanced years, or special needs."
"We are daily witnesses to the spread of violence in a culture which fails to respect human life," he added.
"Likewise, we need only to think of the pervasive attack upon the integrity of human sexuality, of our identity as man or woman, with the pretense of defining for ourselves, often employing violent means, a sexual identity other than that given to us by God," said the Cardinal.
"With ever greater concern, we witness the devastating effect on individuals and families of the so-called 'gender theory,'" he added.
The cardinal then noted some of the sin in the Church. "We witness, too, even within the Church, a paganism which worships nature and the earth," he said. "There are those within the Church who refer to the earth as our mother, as if we came from the earth, and the earth is our salvation. But we come from the hand of God, Creator of Heaven and Earth."
He continued, "There is no question that great evils like pestilence are an effect of original sin and of our actual sins. God, in His justice, must repair the disorder which sin introduces into our lives and into our world. In fact, He fulfills the demands of justice by His superabundant mercy."
Cardinal Burke then explained that bishops and priests need to explain the necessity of prayer and worship in churches and arrange for the faithful "to go in procession through the streets and ways, asking God’s blessing upon His people who suffer so intensely."
At the same time, people of faith can and should look to their homes as little churches where family members can pray. "[W]e must remember that our homes are an extension of our parish, a little Church into which we bring Christ from our encounter with Him in the bigger Church," said Cardinal Burke. "Let our homes, during this time of crisis, reflect the truth that Christ is the guest of every Christian home."
To read Cardinal Burke's complete Presentation, click here.