Monsignor Charles Pope, the pastor of Holy Comforter–St. Cyprian Church in Washington, D.C., said in early March that cancelling church services due to the virus meant Catholics had “lost our courage.”
What does he say 100,000 American deaths later?
Instead, Pope looks at Italy’s declining rate of COVID cases and quotes an article that explains possible reasons for this:
Italy took extreme measures throughout the past couple of months to prevent the spread of COVID19. The country enforced a two-month lockdown, which suspended public Masses, closed schools, restaurants, shops, etc. …
Makes sense, then, that they’re seeing relative good news regarding the virus!
But Pope thinks something else deserves credit: On March 27, Pope Francis offered the “Urbi et Orbi blessing” to an empty crowd in St. Peter’s Square. He prayed for the world.
So how come no one’s talking about that?! asks Charles Pope.
While we cannot know for certain whether prayer played any role in the drop, as a man of faith I choose to believe that the Pope, along with all of us who prayed, did contribute…
I realize that correlation is not causation, but there is a long chain of anecdotal evidence in human history that collective public prayer can be correlated with the ending of plagues and famines…
This guy is so close to getting it. And yet so, so far.
I can help him out: If no one prayed, the virus would have continued spreading. Prayers do not stop viruses. They’re not vaccines. If anything, religious leaders insisting on staying open, and bringing together people in enclosed spaces, have exacerbated the spread of the virus.
It’s irresponsible to even suggest prayer is a possible solution to this crisis because it sends the signal to some believers that actual precautions can be ignored if they just pray hard enough.
This isn’t a thought experiment. It’s a declaration of magical thinking that ignores the very real contributions to the conversation made by epidemiologists and other scientists. We’d be better off with more people listening to their advice instead of reading the misguided utterings of a Catholic leader.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Kerri for the link)