IN THE NEW YORK TIMES

Nice timing for an op-ed in the New York Times by Pope Francis, head of the church whose Brooklyn diocese was the plaintiff in a lawsuit that led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling late Wednesday blocking New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order to limit church attendance in virus danger zones.

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The pope pays tribute to caregivers and offers comfort for those suffering, drawing on his own experience with a dangerous illness.

He also mentions government action and inaction, with some emphasis supplied:

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With some exceptions, governments have made great efforts to put the well-being of their people first, acting decisively to protect health and to save lives. The exceptions have been some governments that shrugged off the painful evidence of mounting deaths, with inevitable, grievous consequences. But most governments acted responsibly, imposing strict measures to contain the outbreak.

 

Yet some groups protested, refusing to keep their distance, marching against travel restrictions — as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom! Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals. It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate.

 

It is all too easy for some to take an idea — in this case, for example, personal freedom — and turn it into an ideology, creating a prism through which they judge everything.

cc: U.S. Supreme Court and those opposing mandates in Arkansas, including a governor long on talk and short on action who cheered the court ruling yesterday. The five justices who ruled against the New York orders, even though they weren’t being enforced, are either Catholic (Amy Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas), or in the case of Neil Gorsuch, raised Catholic. Two dissenters, Chief Justice John Roberts and Sonia Sotomayor, are Catholic also. The remaining dissenters — Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan — are Jewish. A separate suit by an Orthodox synagogue also was covered by the ruling.