Pope Francis slams anti-lockdown protesters and praises healthcare workers in New York Times op-ed

  • Pope Francis spoke out against people who protested coronavirus lockdowns in a New York Times op-ed on Thursday.
  • “Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals,” he wrote.
  • The opinion piece came after the Supreme Court ruled against placing restrictions on religious gatherings in New York, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo implemented to help curb virus transmission.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Pope Francis slammed people who protested coronavirus restrictions in the name of “personal freedom” and offered the groups some stern advice in a New York Times op-ed published on Thursday. 

“Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals,” he wrote. “It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate.”

At the onset of the pandemic in the spring, governments all over the world imposed versions of stay-at-home orders to help limit COVID-19 transmission. In several countries, including the United States, such restrictions were met with protests by conservative groups.

“As if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!” Francis wrote of the anti-lockdown protests.

“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,” he added. 

Though Francis did not mention any countries or leaders by name, he called out governments that “shrugged off the painful evidence of mounting deaths, with inevitable, grievous consequences.”

The United States has led the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, with nearly 13 million infections as of Friday. President Donald Trump has been heavily criticized for downplaying the virus since the outbreak’s onset, and for continuing to avoid its severity as doctors and scientists predict rising death tolls for the winter. 

In the opinion piece, Francis described the public health crisis as a time that “reveals what is in our hearts” and an opportunity to “rethink our priorities.” 

“If we are to come out of this crisis less selfish than when we went in, we have to let ourselves be touched by others’ pain,” he wrote.

The article coincidentally came a day after the US Supreme Court ruled against imposing restrictions on religious gatherings in New York. The decision blocks Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 10- and 25-person occupancy limits, which he implemented to prevent further spread of the virus. Cuomo afterward called the ruling “irrelevant.”

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