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

Source: The Hill | November 26, 2020 | Joseph Choi

Pope Francis 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.

“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. 

“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. 

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