Monsignor Charles Pope is the pastor of the Holy Comforter Saint-Cyprian Roman Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. In addition to his pastoral duties directly related to his congregation, he is also a blogger, writer, and speaker, and has even appeared on cable and satellite network EWTN. He maintains a personal website that aggregates his writings, sermons and media appearances.
Among Pope's writings are several pieces he wrote in which he walked a line between acknowledging the seriousness of the virus while also telling his flock not to be afraid of it. For example, in the National Catholic Register piece "'Coronavirus, Where is Thy Sting?' — Why This Gripping Fear is Useless," the cleric wrote that "practical vigilance has given way to paralyzing anxiety" and that Christians should look to Jesus Christ's example of victory over death.
"We must face our fears and accept that illness, suffering and death are a part of life in this world we call 'Paradise Lost.' Life is filled with countless risks," he wrote.
Similarly, in another NC Register piece titled "Coronavirus Stalks in the Darkness, But Do Not Be Afraid," Pope suggested that feeling such emotions was a "spiritual problem."
"We as a nation and as a Church have succumbed to excessive fear, which bespeaks a spiritual problem," he opined.
Now, Pope has himself contracted COVID-19 and developed symptoms of the disease it causes.
As The Washington Post reported, Pope was admitted to the hospital on July 27 with a high fever. Further, local health officials warned that anyone who attended his church between July 25 and 27 should self-isolate. Like other Catholic churches across the world, Holy Comforter had encouraged its congregants to practice social distancing and had enacted a procedure for distributing the Eucharist that included clerics using hand sanitizer on their hands after each congregant received the host.
Pope, for his part, has returned home from the hospital and is currently recuperating. He and a handful of other seminarians who lived in the same rectory are also self-isolating. In addition, the building is being deep-cleaned this week as a precaution.
Since the pandemic began, its intersection with religion has sometimes produced headlines. For example, as reported at the time by The Inquisitr, early on in the pandemic Louisiana pastor Tony Spell steadfastly continued to hold worship services in-person in defiance of local laws and was even arrested for it.