Christian Charity in the New Phase of the Pandemic

Over at Where Peter Is, the sane and sensible Paul Fahey talks common sense:

On Thursday, May 13, the CDC announced new public health guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals in the United States. During a press conference, CDC director Rochelle Walensky announced that Americans who are vaccinated can safely gather outdoors and indoors without wearing masks or physically distancing. Based on the downward trajectory of cases and the scientific research, Dr. Walensky said the words that so many have longed to hear since the pandemic began. She told the vaccinated population, “You can do things you stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

The CDC provides more detail on the guidelines on their website, which clarifies that a “fully vaccinated” individual is someone for whom two weeks has passed since their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or since the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “If you don’t meet these requirements,” the CDC says, “you are NOT fully vaccinated. Keep taking all precautions until you are fully vaccinated.” These precautions include wearing a mask and staying at least six feet away from others.

For obvious reasons, many of those I’ve spoken to are excited about these new guidelines. Not only does it mean we can begin to live our lives more normally again, but because it hopefully will encourage the vaccine-hesitant to get their shots. Obviously for those with family members who cannot get vaccinated due to health reasons or age (the vaccine is not yet available to children under 12), things remain complicated.

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the changing guidelines provoke new social and moral questions. Those of us who are vaccinated have to consider whether to wear a mask while out in public in order to help those who aren’t vaccinated feel safer? Some might wonder whether wearing a mask after receiving the vaccine is just virtue-signaling. Additionally, those who are not vaccinated (including those who have decided not to take the vaccine for moral reasons), might be tempted to act as if they are—so that they can return to normal daily living.

As Catholics, we have the deposit of faith and the Magisterium of the Church to help us make these decisions. St. Paul offers some practical guidance in his first letter to the Corinthians that is relevant here. After he explains that Christians are not morally prohibited from eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols, he cautions that they “make sure that this liberty of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor. 8:9). In other words, he’s advising us to be mindful of our public actions. Even if they aren’t sinful in themselves, we also want to avoid causing scandal.

On his Facebook page, Catholic writer Mark Shea applied the same principle to the CDC guidelines. He wrote, “I regard mask-wearing now as Paul regarded eating meat. I’m fully vaxed and don’t need to. But if it eases those around me or the house rules of the store or theatre or parish still require it, I will wear the mask out of consideration for others.”

There’s more here.

None of this is very hard to understand, of course–except to MAGA. Meanwhile, if you are not vaccinated, get that way and wear the mask till you are out of consideration for those who cannot be vaccinated. You won’t die. Offer up the inconvenience.


16 Responses

  1. I’ve been fully vaccinated since early May.
    I’m still wearing a mask in public spaces – not that the CDC thinks I need to, but it’s still unknown if vaccinated people can become carriers.
    We’ve been doing it this long, I can go a little longer.

  2. All of the adults in my family are vaccinated.

    I’m sitting on the fence about my two youngest kids though. If it is safe for a 12 year-old, why is it not considered safe for an 10-11 year old? It must have something to do with hormones and puberty given some of the crazy side effects that have been recorded in trans people and a significant number of post menopausal women.

    I wish I could find more information on the subject. :/

    1. Pfizer is right now conducting clinical trials on their vaccine with children down to age 2. They are hoping for FDA approval by late summer.

  3. I am a lifelong Introvert, totally comfortable in my introversion. Not only am I fine with wearing a mask, I am fully prepared to wear a helmet. As someone who grew up believing we were only one bad day away from nuclear annihilation, where the few survivors would have to eke out an existence in the burned wasteland, one thing I learned: If you’re gonna look cool in the wasteland, an intimidating helmet is a must.

    Bring it on.

    1. Lol!
      My mother went through a Protestantish phase, so I not only grew up with the cold war (our neighbor had a subterranean bomb shelter), but some of the first adult books that I would pick up and read when I was a little kid were books like The Late Great Planet Earth, and then later, The Three Days of Darkness.

      My husband, who became a Christian as a fifth grader in Ecuador (at a Protestant missionary school), was taught to believe in THE RAPTURE. One day, he fell asleep midday in his attic bedroom. When he came downstairs to a completely empty house, he was terrorized because he thought his whole family had been raptured and he hadn’t made the cut.

      I don’t know why I find it mildly amusing that the MAGA people can’t muster it up to find a good ‘ole Apocalypse story in greenhouse gases. It must be because it wasn’t their idea and the economy comes first.

  4. Well, no place else to post this, and since this is a Catholic blog and we’re discussing the pandemic…

    Do you remember a few weeks ago we were discussing father James Altman, a far right hyperQatholic who advised against the vaccine? Well…

    The pastor of a Roman Catholic parish in Wisconsin who told his congregation to shun the Covid-19 vaccine and preached right-wing politics from the pulpit has been asked to step down by his bishop.

    The Rev. James Altman, of the St. James the Less Roman Catholic Church in La Crosse, made the announcement during his sermon at Sunday Mass, calling himself a victim of the “cancel culture.”

    “If the left whines, like they do, like a spoiled brat often enough, they succeed in canceling so many voices of truth,” he said. “And now that they are whining like, if I may say it, the pansy babies that they are, to cancel me.”

    With a little luck, maybe he won’t be a right to life guy controbuting to the deaths from a highly preventable disease. That would be refreshing.

    He claims he is a victim of cancel culture, and that the left is responsible. I don’t think there’s a single American bishop who could be labeled as any further to the left then Attila the Hun.

    Even better though, Qhristian go fund me has raised $138,000 for his legal defense. Let that sink in with all of its implications. But not to worry, St. Grifty the Greater looks after his own. Maybe there will be a merchandise line to follow?

      1. I wonder if this Fr. Altman could simply have gone completely insane in the mental health version. And I am very sad to know that he is from the Companions of the Cross, an order founded in Ottawa, Canada. Their founder seemed like a solid Catholic.

      2. I made a mistake: Father Altman is not a member of the Companions of the Cross, which is a Canadian congregation. I have been confusing him with Father Goring.

  5. I’m happy not to have to wear the things only because they get rather not this time of year where I live.

    But there’s no reason for getting after others for continuing to do so, as you rightly point out.

  6. I intend to wear the mask for many more months, at least until the CDC says the US has reached the herd immunity level. And many of my fellow seniors say the same thing (we live in a senior community). There are far too many idiots out there who refuse to vaccinate for Lord knows what insane reason. If the world were run by those people smallpox would still be killing millions and polio would still be sending victims into iron lungs. I fault the CDC and the media for not stressing what they really said, and businesses (like Walmart, etc) that are doing away with the masks without proof of vaccinations are just begging for customers to get infected. Related: brilliant politician McCarthy attended his son’s (I think it was his son) with the virus!

    1. @towa

      As a fellow senior citizen, I think you were wise not to change your habits just because so many others are. I have a really bad feeling that in about six weeks or so we’re going to see a resurgence of the virus. There was an article in the Washington Post I think yesterday which basically stated that the current rate of infection among the unvaccinated matches the infection rate for the general population five months ago. The number of people that have been vaccinated has brought down the numbers for the general population, masking this.

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