A priest who criticised his congregation for refusing to come to mass due to concerns about contracting Covid-19 has himself been diagnosed with the virus.
Monsignor Charles Pope of Holy Comforter St Cyprian Catholic Church in Washington D.C. was diagnosed and hospitalised with the illness on 27th July - the same day he made an appearance on his radio show calling out those who refused to come to mass as "lukewarm".
"I think a good number or at least half of that number who haven’t come were the lukewarm,” he said. “We may have lost them forever because, in effect, we said, ‘Look, your physical health is more important than your spiritual health.’”
Writing in the National Catholic Register on 18th July, the priest insisted that “too many of us were content to hunker down and forego public Mass", lamenting that his congregation had "capitulated” to concerns about the virus.
Speaking after his diagnosis, Pope told his congregation he was “very sorry for the inconvenience” and insisted that he had been taking precautions to try and avoid catching the illness.
“Somewhere along the lines, we have to accept the fact that we live in a world that is risky," he added. “We can take necessary and prudent precautions, but we’ll never completely be able to prevent ourselves from catching a disease, even one that will eventually kill us. We’re all headed eventually for the tomb.”
In response to his diagnosis, the District of Columbia’s health department director, Dr LaQuandra S Nesbitt, said that anyone who received communion between 25th to 27th July should immediately self-isolate for two weeks.
She added: "DC Health is continuing to work with church leadership to ensure that the guidance and best practices are followed to minimise the risk of Covid-19 among attendees."