Over the past several weeks, this editorial piece for The Tablet has covered COVID-19, the novel Coronavirus. Almost every news article in this edition is somehow related to the present pandemic.
There are a few facts that need to be stated, first and foremost:
First, COVID-19 is not a simple “flu.” Although many who contract this virus remain asymptomatic, it is very serious and has a much higher mortality rate.
Second, COVID-19 is not an exclusively Asian or European virus. This is a world-wide pandemic and is and will be affecting the U.S.A. It is not “brought in by foreigners.”
Third, COVID-19 is not merely the creation of “fake news” designed by the Democrats to “take down” President Trump. This is absurd.
Ask the over 150,000 people infected in Italy if they really care about the President and his agenda — they are too sick to answer you right now. It is very real and not a distraction to discredit the President of the U.S.A. To think so at this point demonstrates a remarkable solipsism.
Fourth, the reaction of shutting things down and cancelling things due to COVID-19 is not an overreaction. Again, ask the people of Italy who did this far too late as this virus ravaged their land while they did nothing.
Yes, we did not have the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but hopefully we will not have more of a pandemic ravaging New York City. Check history — read about Philadelphia in 1918 in the height of the Spanish flu to see if parades are a smart idea during a viral pandemic!
Fifth, the Church in the Diocese of Rome and any other dioceses in the world that choose to cancel public Masses or suspend the obligation for Sunday Mass due to the very real threat of spreading COVID-19 are not unbelieving heathens.
Last week, the Superintendent of Schools Thomas Chadzutko announced that all elementary Catholic academies and parish schools within the Diocese of Brooklyn will be closed from Monday, March 16, to Friday, April 20.
The diocese announced Saturday March 14 the cancellation of all public Masses in Brooklyn and Queens beginning Monday, March 16, amid continuing concern about the coronavirus epidemic.
“The faithful of the diocese are reminded that the Bishop has already issued a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday. The obligation to keep the Lord’s Day holy can be fulfilled by maintaining a prayerful attitude and through personal and family prayer,” the statement said.
They have made a wise pastoral decision to care for their people. True, the Lord will never get you sick, but sick people will.
This is a very real worldwide threat. People are ill. People are under lockdown in their residences, including our Brooklyn priests who teach, work, or study in Rome. This is not a minor thing. We should not fall into panic, but we must take it seriously.
Pray for an end to this illness, for those who are ill, and for those who care for them. Pray for all of us in this human community because this is a life-changing event.