Priest who blasted 'lukewarm' congregants for not coming to mass over coronavirus fears gets Covid-19

·3 min read
Monsignor Charles Pope speaking about his coronavirus diagnosis in a video on 2 August: (Msgr. Charles Pope - YouTube)
Monsignor Charles Pope speaking about his coronavirus diagnosis in a video on 2 August: (Msgr. Charles Pope - YouTube)

A priest who criticised coronavirus restrictions was diagnosed with Covid-19 hours after he called congregants “lukewarm” catholics for not coming to church during the pandemic.

Monsignor Charles Pope, of Holy Comforter St Cyprian Catholic Church in Washington D.C. was diagnosed and hospitalised with Covid-19 on 27 July, according to Huffpost.

The Roman Catholic priest was later released and has been self-isolating at his rectory since Saturday 1 August.

Pope released a video on the day he was released where he said he is “very sorry for the inconvenience” his absence caused and confirmed that he had been taking precautions during services throughout the pandemic.

However, he added that “somewhere along the lines, we have to accept the fact that we live in a world that is risky.

“We can take necessary and prudent precautions, but we’ll never completely be able to prevent ourselves from catching a disease, even one that will eventually kill us. We’re all headed eventually for the tomb.”

Dr LaQuandra S Nesbitt, the District of Columbia’s health department director, published a letter on Friday that said anyone who received communion between 25 to 27 July should self-isolate for 14 days.

“DC Health is continuing to work with church leadership to ensure that the guidance and best practices are followed to minimise the risk of Covid-19 among attendees,” she added.

Mr Pope previously criticised coronavirus restrictions that have been imposed in states all across the US in recent months to help tackle the crisis, that included church services being banned or the amount of attendees restricted.

He argued that the church “capitulated” to concerns about the crisis and wrote in the National Catholic Register on 18 July that “too many of us were content to hunker down and forego public Mass.”

Mr Pope added: “We must reflect on all that has happened and resolve to never again allow a governor or mayor [to] dictate whether, when or how we may give the sacraments.”

On 27 July, hours before he was diagnosed and hospitalised with coronavirus, Mr Pope criticised catholics who have not attended church services over the last few months, during Morning Glory, the radio show that he co-hosts.

“I think a good number or at least half of that number who haven’t come were the lukewarm,” he said. “We may have lost them forever because, in effect, we said, ‘Look, your physical health is more important than your spiritual health.’”

His comments were challenged by his co-host Gloria Purvis, who said: “I’d like to think that perhaps the limited availability [of seats at Mass], as well as underlying conditions, pregnancy, cancer, high blood pressure, all these things might be playing a role in people not being able to return.”

Mr Pope replied: “I don’t want to lose the lukewarm; I still don’t want to lose them,” before moving onto a different topic, according to Huffpost.

Catholics in Washington, DC have been given permission by the Archdiocese of Washington to not attend Mass, with the US struggling to contain the outbreak.

According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, in the US as a whole, some 4.7 million people have tested positive for coronavirus. The death toll has reached at least 156,906.

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