Epidemic Danger and Catholic Sacraments | Thomas Joseph White

It is true that Christians can and should maintain measured reserve regarding political regimes and the state, especially when they illegitimately ignore the moral obligations of natural law or encroach upon arenas of religious freedom. But Christians should also be on guard against exaggerated individualism, magical thinking that ignores scientific evidence, and religiously rationalized narcissism. Protesting quarantine because it disrupts one’s lifestyle choices can be a sign of displaced individualism, denial of reality, and bourgeois entitlement…
…The first thing to be said about the suspension of public masses is that it is not innovative nor is there any evidence that it stems from undue influence of a secular mentality. In fact, there is clear evidence that in medieval and modern Europe, as well as in the U.S., this form of response on the part of the Church is a very traditional and time-tested one. St. Charles Borromeo has been mentioned much in these discussions. He closed the churches of Milan due to a plague in 1576–77. During this time, he arranged for masses to be celebrated outside and at street intersections so that people could watch from their windows. There wasn’t any question of distributing communion since it would have been rather unusual in this period for most people to receive regularly at mass. This lasted about two years…The bottom line is that the Catholic Church generally did whatever was reasonable to prevent the spread of disease and to comply with rational city ordinances. It chafed a little and pushed back against things that seemed unreasonable, but when it needed to suspend gatherings for mass, it did so…

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