Many will be gathering in church, celebrating the birth of Jesus over the next two days, for one of the most joyous times of the year.
But a CNN religion commentator, Roman Catholic priest Fr. Edward Beck, has some thoughts on the subject that seem contrary to everything I learned about the love of one’s neighbor as a Catholic. He’s telling people to stay home, effectively telling them they are not welcome in the Church — on one of the most important days of celebration for Catholics — if they are unvaccinated.
I remember growing up as a child being taught how the door of the Church was always open for all who wish to come in, whatever they thought, whatever condition they were in, whatever sins they may have committed. Indeed, that is one of the things that has been true but is perhaps one of the things least recognized about the Church and one of the greatest things about it historically: all are welcome.
It sounds like Fr. Beck doesn’t understand the Church that way and has been spending more time studying at the knee of CNN. He believes churches should require vaccination for entry and that it’s a “social responsibility” of people to get vaccinated, if they are to follow Jesus and “Love thy neighbor.”
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First, trying to claim you know the mind of Jesus is always a challenging place to go and just a bit presumptuous. Yes, Jesus did preach, “Love thy neighbor.” But that doesn’t sound at all like ‘Encourage them to stay away if you don’t like the actions they take,’ which is what Beck is pushing. You don’t “show mercy” to each other by demonizing your neighbor.
I might think he has a “social responsibility” to not be on a network like CNN that seems to have issues with people who have sexual allegations against them — from their fired former anchors to their fired former producers. Not to mention the misinformation that the network constantly dishes out. But if I were a priest affiliated with a church, I still wouldn’t deny him entry to that church for the poor choices he has made. When you start doing that, you aren’t preaching “love thy neighbor.”
But Beck didn’t leave it there, after people pushed back against what he said. He compared the unvaccinated to people with leprosy, not helping his cause at all.
Your neighbor is all those who are unvaccinated as well, Fr. Beck, and you don’t seem to be showing much love to them. Trying to use Jesus to justify propaganda is not a good look. He should also know that the vaccinated can spread the virus, but they’re acceptable in Beck’s mind because they’ve complied with the proper edicts.
This kind of attitude drives people away and presents the wrong view of what the Church is actually about. No, it isn’t the Church of CNN propaganda. Notice while he says he wants to impose this on people, churches aren’t doing what he is suggesting; the churches are open to the unvaccinated, despite what Beck wants.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.