Friday, February 18, 2022

The Church’s Role in COVID Recovery - By William Barger

In the December 22, 2021, Washington Post, an article appeared titled: “Thousands who followed the rules are about to get Covid. Despite following all the local and federal protocols, the author believed she engaged in some “wrongdoing” by becoming infected by COVID-19.  Many fellow citizens truly believed that if they followed the government prescribed requirements, they would avoid infection. The dutiful allegiance to technocrats’ edicts is the act of “true believers” and becoming infected is “sin.” Christian Churches need to help us realize that acts that have become irrational, divisive, and coercive are signs of a cultish belief in idolized “experts.”

Christians are uniquely suited to help others recognize that their behavior is becoming cultish.  In 2020, people agreed to draconian measures to “stop” the spread of COVID. By late summer, however, it became clear that this virus was not even close to the mortality of smallpox, ebola, or polio. The case fatality rate has changed little since that time -- around 99.8% for those who are not elderly or “at-risk.” Using months of media conditioning, promoting fear of serious complications or death, experts blamed non-adherents to their arrogant vaccination plan as the reason the virus was not yet “defeated.”  The scapegoat arrived.  The technocratic tyrants needed a group to blame when it became obvious these mRNA vaccines would not stop transmission or infection.  Coercion and punishment have been openly espoused for the “unclean”, namely, the unvaccinated.  

Exiting a cult can be difficult.  Church leaders should reorient to help their flocks free themselves from the untruths to which they cling.  The Church should provide a path of mercy and truth for those who recognize that their technocratic leaders were more interested in control than in safety.

The Church has a duty to help people recognize age-old methods of manipulation and their own role in ignoring virtue in favor of vice. The technocratic experts have yet to identify metrics of success on how this pandemic becomes endemic. Fear is their currency. And social conditioning, to determine how much tyranny the population will tolerate, is their deliverable. We have come to believe that avoiding death from this virus at all costs is our goal, and these tyrants’ promises of “safety” will return us to comfort.

Christians have fought tyrants before, using persuasion, courage, and mercy. Saint John Paul II, no stranger to tyrannical governments, reminded all people of goodwill that the dignity of the human person was a bedrock principle of Christianity. Protecting conscience rights, identifying idols or cults which might supplant Christ’s kingship, and demanding the right to worship freely, all protect the dignity of the human person.

A well-formed conscience is a cornerstone of our faith and our Constitution. One can dissent from being vaccinated for COVID-19 and still have a well-formed conscience. The National Catholic Bioethics Center stated: “There is no universal moral obligation to accept or refuse [the vaccine], and it should be a voluntary decision of the individual.” Natural immunity and serious safety signals are prudent reasons to eschew vaccination. The Omicron variant’s ability to infect nearly everyone, vaccinated or not, has caused several European countries to consider this an endemic, and stop their vaccination mandates. Clergy must make it clear that the scapegoating of the unvaccinated ignores conscience rights. 

Pandemic recovery is an excellent opportunity for the Church to remind us to place our hope not in earthly princes, but in Christ’s kingship and mercy. Public health technocrats and power-hungry officials relied upon an ambiguous definition of “safety” to demand that churches be closed, funerals eliminated, small businesses be closed, and promoted the vaccination of every person.  Churches were shuttered for long periods, based upon the government’s edicts.   When big-box stores and liquor stores were allowed to reopen as “essential,” but churches were not, the clergy should have pushed back.  Some did.  Many did not.  The U.S. Supreme Court had to alert the State of New York that they could not arbitrarily keep big box stores open while shuttering churches.  This was a time when people truly needed access to services and sacraments, but they were not there.

The technocrats' obsession with control even has them demanding vaccination of our youngest children, who face a minuscule risk from infection.  We need reminders that virtues combat vice. Pride and greed can explain why public health experts demand compliance with a pandemic response that enriches pharmaceutical companies and enables government officials to engage in crushing mandates, lockdowns, and diktats. Despite their methods being proven ineffective, again and again, these “experts” continue to spew forth draconian mandates and advice to “defeat” the coronavirus. Marxism demands compliance, even when their demands became irrational. The Church has been a bulwark against Marxist ideologies before.

One of the most certain ways to protect the dignity of the faithful is for the Church to demand that the faithful have access to services and the sacraments, regardless of whether they are “unclean.” As of this writing, Canadian provinces and their dioceses require a vaccine passport to enter the church.  Austria has mandated all adults be vaccinated.  The clergy must not participate in any vaccine passport system. Silence from the Church about a mandatory digital passport is not a way to gain, or even retain, those who normally look to the Church as a beacon of hope, and a bulwark against godless tyranny. 

The American Church, clergy as well as laity, must take back its moral authority and proclaim the dignity of human life. The Church is to be the guardian of conscience rights.  Protecting the religious liberty and dignity of the faithful can be accomplished by protecting its clergy, sacraments, and the right to worship freely, without limitation. Both clergy and laity must work to help others recognize that Caesar asks too much by demanding even children be vaccinated, that the ill be isolated in hospitals, and that our “safety” requires the elimination of sacraments and worship, including a Christian burial. The Church must restore the practice of adults withstanding short-term struggles for the protection of the children.  Doing every act our idols demand for our “safety,” no matter how irrational, must be opposed, and be identified as a “science”-based cult. The Church must proclaim the spiritual purification that occurs in suffering for the defense of God’s truth.  Believing our technocratic elites are capable of controlling God’s creation is a dangerous spiritual path. The Church needs to remember that it is in the business of saving souls. The Catholic Church, specifically, has been through these types of battles throughout its history. We are now at a time in history where future generations will hear of the courageous actions of faithful people that were effective in the protection of the Church and its teachings.