Priest tells Trump churches aren’t necessary to practice our faith

Churches aren’t necessary to practice our faith, a Catholic priest has told US president Donald Trump.

Trump takes the opposite view to Fr Edward Beck, and says he considers houses of worship and their religious services essential.

“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, this weekend,” Trump said last Friday. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.”

“But who says that religious organizations haven’t already been providing “essential” services without this presidential “blessing?” Beck argues.

“I am a Roman Catholic priest in the Passionist Community serving, at the moment, in New York. During this pandemic I have buried the dead at cemeteries … prayed with people via FaceTime and Zoom and even heard a confession in a supermarket parking lot.”

“Priests with whom I live have blessed the sick and dying in hospitals and nursing homes. We have also celebrated virtual Masses and prayer services for countless of the faithful.”

Beck says the churches in his area have been open for individual prayer, Benediction and Stations of the Cross. Social distancing is strongly encouraged.

He says priests have even paraded in processions in neighborhoods with the Blessed Sacrament to bring elements of the church service out to the faithful.

Other faith leaders like rabbis and imams have also “been doing the equivalent with their respective religious congregations,” Beck says.

That is all “religious service,” he told Trump.

Keeping themselves and their parishioners safe from the contagion has been the responsible thing to do, Beck says.

Not to do so would be ” irresponsible and sinful… responsible action with regard to religious organizations during this pandemic is a right-to-life issue. This is a right that needs to apply to those who live after birth, too.”

Beck has an answer for those who think telling churches not to reopen is a violation of our First Amendment rights.

“No one is prohibiting the free exercise of religion … people can and do continue to worship, albeit in temporarily altered circumstances and in novel ways.”

“We all want to be able to open churches and places of worship fully so that those who wish to gather in physical communion again can do so.”

“However, this must be done incrementally and with utmost care. Physicians and health experts should be our primary guides here, and religious leaders should follow their guidance with strict and humble adherence.”

“Eventually we will all be ready. But let us take the time we need to get it right.”

“When those of us who are Christian put out our hands for communion again, let’s be confident that the body of Christ will nourish our bodies and not infect them. Our bodies — and lives — may depend on it.”


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