Pope Francis swipes at groups protesting COVID-19 restrictions in NYT op-ed

Pope FrancisPope FrancisToppled statue of Spanish priest at California Capitol to be replaced by memorial to Native tribes Pope decides to keep criticized archbishop, issues 'spiritual timeout' COVID faith: Are your religious views 'sincerely held'? MORE on Thursday praised medical workers and criticized groups protesting COVID-19 restrictions in an op-ed published in The New York Times

In the article, the pope talked about the ways in which his own personal health crisis helped him to understand how science is used to help people recover.

At 21, the pope had part of his lung was removed.

ADVERTISEMENT

"When I got really sick at the age of 21, I had my first experience of limit, of pain and loneliness. It changed the way I saw life. For months, I didn’t know who I was or whether I would live or die. The doctors had no idea whether I’d make it either. I remember hugging my mother and saying, 'Just tell me if I’m going to die,'" he wrote. 

“I have some sense of how people with Covid-19 feel as they struggle to breathe on a ventilator," he added.

According to Francis, two nurses — Cornelia and Micaela — helped him survive, adding that “They taught me what it is to use science but also to know when to go beyond it to meet particular needs. And the serious illness I lived through taught me to depend on the goodness and wisdom of others.”

The pope lauded doctors and medical workers who continue to take care of the sick during the pandemic, stating that they understand that "it is better to live a shorter life serving others than a longer one resisting that call." 

“That’s why, in many countries, people stood at their windows or on their doorsteps to applaud them in gratitude and awe. They are the saints next door, who have awakened something important in our hearts, making credible once more what we desire to instill by our preaching,” he added. 

However, the pope swiped at groups who have insisted that measures put in place to stem the spread of the pandemic are an attack on their personal freedoms. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“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,” he writes.

The United States and other countries have experienced groups of protesters claiming that measures such as social distancing, wearing masks and stay-at-home orders impinge on their personal freedoms. 

Earlier this year, armed protesters, some dressed as militia, entered the Michigan Capitol building to protest Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Tracking the Earth's 'ultimate record of change' Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll Michigan developing electrified road to wirelessly charge EVs, Whitmer says MORE's (D) stay-at-home order. Similar protests occurred in Virginia and Minnesota after their state leaders issued stay-at-home orders to flatten the curve of coronavirus cases. 

Francis similarly criticized such protesters in his new book "Let Us Dream."

The pope echoed similar sentiments in a book ghost-written in English by his biographer Austen Ivereigh. 

“You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education. ... They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life,” he wrote.