In the article, published on Thursday, the head of the Catholic Church shared with New York Times readers his hope that the highly visible coronavirus health crisis will awaken the people to other crises that they have been ignoring: hunger, violence and climate change. Then, he says, maybe we can rediscover our interconnectedness, overcome the traps of individualism and consumerism, and forge “a better, different, human future.”
“If we are to come out of this crisis less selfish than when we went in, we have to let ourselves be touched by others’ pain,” Pope Francis writes of the pandemic. “There’s always a way to escape destruction.” https://t.co/4ihIXROI5Y
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 26, 2020
But many seem to have interpreted it as a well-timed commentary on the political situation in the US – in particular, the ruling of the US Supreme Court late on Wednesday which put religious freedom ahead of Covid-19 restrictions.
The 5-4 decision temporarily blocked New York rules restricting religious gatherings, which were passed in October. They were challenged by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Orthodox Jewish congregation Agudath Israel, which complained that the restrictions were less severe for some secular institutions. Justice Amy Coney Barrett played a key part in the decision, considering that the Supreme Court ruled in the opposite direction in a similar case which was reviewed while late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was still in office.
So, many took the Pope’s opinion piece as a hidden attack on the court’s decision…
— Edward Wong (@ewong) November 27, 2020
…or even a personal attack against Barrett and other Catholic justices.
I think Pope Francis just nicely said #AmyCovidBarrett is a horrible person who doesn't give a shit about people dying.
Sounds about right….
— Women SCARE Trump💪🌈🏴☠️ (@KylaInTheBurgh) November 26, 2020
— Speculawyer 🇳🇴-American (@speculawyer) November 27, 2020
Even Pope Francis thinks #AmyCovidBarrett is a religious zealot and published an op-ed about she and the other four pro-covid members of SCOTUS.
2020 came prepared for Thanksgiving.
— Grant Stern (@grantstern) November 26, 2020
In his piece, the Pope shared how he almost died at the age of 21 due to a lung disease. Ultimately, he recovered thanks to science, but also thanks to the wisdom “to know when to go beyond it to meet particular needs,” which the people who were treating him possessed.
He recalled that piece of personal history before explaining that the Covid-19 pandemic highlights how caregivers are willing to risk their lives to help others, answering a call to serve something bigger than one’s personal goals.
“They are the saints next door, who have awakened something important in our hearts,” the Pope said. “They are the antibodies to the virus of indifference. They remind us that our lives are a gift and we grow by giving of ourselves, not preserving ourselves but losing ourselves in service.”
He did mention that some governments are being accused of failing to put human lives and well-being first in their response to the pandemic. He also had a few scolding words reserved for people who violate Covid-19 rules out of principle, arguing that they take the idea of personal freedom and “turn it into an ideology, creating a prism through which they judge everything.”
The ‘Pope is on our side against Republicans’ movement on Twitter also had some dissenting voices, though.
The Pope is still against abortion, you know. Will you be cheerleading him when he comes out on the side of the 5 justices who overturn Roe v Wade? Or will he revert back to an old irrelevant religious crank again? https://t.co/XM1b9CJVLj
— Kathy Yacker, Pirate Pussy (@necroprincess13) November 27, 2020
And some people in the conservative camp saw the Pope’s call for a more just world as “chilling,” and possibly secretly communist.
Chilling Pope Francis NYT oped: he's of course fully on board with using pandemic as an excuse to destroy current political and economic system and build "something new."
This old Marxist is warning you of their plans; prepare. pic.twitter.com/TIFYy2NOfz
— Peachy Keenan (@KeenanPeachy) November 27, 2020
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