Writing in Our Sunday Visitor recently, Cardinal Timothy Dolan revealed that he has been examining his conscience:
Did we as a Church, here in the United States, go too far in obeying all the restrictions imposed during the COVID pandemic, resulting in a lack of pastoral care for those sick?
Give the affable prelate from New York some credit; at least he asks the question which so many other Church leaders still avoid. At least his conscience is stirring. But isn’t the answer painfully, blindingly obvious?
Yes, “we as a Church” did go too far— much too far— in slavish obedience to intrusive regulations that compounded the suffering. Yes, there was a staggering, scandalous lack of pastoral care for the sick— and for the healthy as well. Our churches were closed. Our people were denied the sacraments. What more evidence do we need, to make our Church leaders recognize that they betrayed their mission?
After congratulating himself for adhering strictly to the dictates of secular authorities, Cardinal Dolan comes back to the same question:
However, I ask myself — were we equally obedient to the biblical commands to be near the sick, to comfort the dying, to reverently bury the dead, and, for us deacons, priests and bishops, to bring the sacraments and the Church’s prayerful accompaniment to those very sick from the virus?
And again the answer is staring us all in the face. No, the Church did not obey the Lord’s commands. At the height of the epidemic, the sacraments were unavailable— not just to the sick, but to virtually all Catholics. At precisely the time when the Church text should have been a beacon of hope, instead our pastors were contributing to a climate of pervasive fear— not only fear of the virus, but also fear of other people, who came to seen as vectors of infection rather than brothers and sisters in Christ.
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