Toxic Religion: Hundreds have been forced into quarantine after an irresponsible priest who frequently mocked legitimate fears of COVID-19 was hospitalized with the virus.
Before being hospitalized, the priest, Monsignor Charles Pope, would frequently berate Catholics who chose to stay away from mass under the advice of medical professionals and scientists, claiming that they were “cowering in fear.”
Washington DC’s Fox affiliate reports:
A DC Catholic church is closed until further notice after a pastor contracted COVID-19, forcing staff and congregation members into quarantine. The Holy Comforter Saint Cyprian Catholic Church is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. DC Health said parishioners who took communion should self-quarantine.
The pastor who is sick, Monsignor Charles Pope, has criticized COVID-19 restrictions, people not attending mass and “fear mongering” by media over the virus. Pope told FOX 5 Sunday night that he started experiencing symptoms on Monday, got a rapid test, and the church was shut down immediately.
The pastor of a Catholic church on Capitol Hill who urged people not to ‘cower in fear’ of the coronavirus has contracted COVID-19, prompting D.C. health officials to tell about 250 staff and parishioners to self-quarantine for two weeks. https://t.co/0iXSERzIHf
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 3, 2020
Pope, an ultra-conservative, claimed that Catholics who stopped coming to mass because of the pandemic were “lukewarm” Catholics, “cowering in fear.”
Writing for the National Catholic Register last March Pope argued that “spiritual health” was more important than real, physical health:
I simply ask you: Are we majoring in the minors? Physical health has its place, but spiritual health does too — and its place is vastly more important.
I am concerned that we have lost our courage and our faith and subordinated holy things to the state in this matter. Canceling Mass while bars and restaurants remain open during the day is obtuse and seems to demonstrate a lack of resolve among our leaders. St. Charles Borromeo did not hunker down during the plague outbreak of his day — he went among the faithful and cared for them as a priest should do. He also told the unbelieving civil leaders of his day to acknowledge that faith, public repentance and worship were essential parts of any solution. We have far less than plague today and are far too willing to let a secular government tell us to cancel our public prayers.
And last month, taking a similar tone and writing for the same publication, Pope declared:
What will it take to help people get their courage back? What is the endgame that public officials have in mind? Will there ever be a day when we say, “Let’s all get back to normal?” Will we always have to wear masks? Will we ever be allowed to sing, shout or cheer in public again? Will crowds ever be allowed to gather in common areas and convention centers? Will those who go about living life normally always be shamed and called selfish and irresponsible?
No doubt some readers will think me imprudent, irresponsible, and insensitive…
Yes, clearly Pope was and is “imprudent, irresponsible, and insensitive,” a foolish clown who placed his own religious superstition and vanity ahead of the health and welfare of his congregation and his own self, with tragic consequence.
Bottom line: Monsignor Charles Pope, a vain and foolish charlatan, has been hospitalized with COVID-19 after mocking those who took reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. And as a result of his irresponsible and imprudent actions hundreds have been placed at risk and forced into quarantine.