CNN Religious commentator Father Edward Beck said he believed churches should require attendees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 — and that if the churches did not require it, unvaccinated people who truly wanted to follow the teachings of Jesus would show care and compassion for their neighbors by not showing up to services.
Host Jim Sciutto asked Beck about upcoming services during a morning interview on Christmas Eve, noting that as the highly contagious omicron variant continued to spread it might be harder to convince people to attend the normally-packed holiday services at all.
“Father Beck, one struggle I imagine is that fewer people are going to church, to Temple, to worship these days. Like with many institutions, right? Folks are retreating over time,” Sciutto began. “And I wonder how you, as people of faith, break through that to get the message through as people come less often to hear that message.”
“You know, Jim, there’s no supply-chain shortage of love and compassion,” Beck replied. “I think that what we’re trying to say to people is that you have a social responsibility, if you do gather — you know, Christian churches, many are gathering this evening, and some are still not requiring vaccination, which I disagree with.”
“I think that part of caring for one another, you know, the dictum of Jesus, who we celebrate His birth, is ‘love one another, show compassion, show mercy to each other,'” Beck continued. “So I think the message is that if we want to act like Jesus in these kind of times, we take care of each other. And if we’re going to gather in celebration, we have to do so safely, comfortably, and we have to give to one another that gift of peace and part of that is health and feeling like we’re gathering in a healthy environment.”
“And so I really hope as people gather in celebration, to celebrate the birth of Christ — who was about mercy and compassion and love of one another — that we keep that in mind,” Beck concluded. “It’s not about us. You know, I don’t think there’s any reason to say, ‘I’m not going to get vaccinated today’ — you know, maybe a health reason, but then you can’t come to church, be at services with other people right now. We have a responsibility to one another.”
Beck doubled down on his position in a tweet, saying, “Yep. I said it. I don’t think unvaccinated people should be gathering in churches for Christmas Eve / Day Masses. ‘Love thy neighbor,’ says the Savior.”
Yep. I said it. I don’t think unvaccinated people should be gathering in churches for Christmas Eve / Day Masses. “Love thy neighbor,” says the Savior. @EricaRHill @jimsciutto @NewDay @cnn pic.twitter.com/3iCghHpV4I
— Father Edward Beck (@FrEdwardBeck) December 24, 2021
“Keep the lepers out!” National Review’s Michael Brendan Daugherty tweeted in reply.
“Hmmm this is a little different than the teachings of my faith …” Harmeet Dhillon added.
Actor Matthew Marsden also replied to Beck’s tweet, saying, “I will be going to mass today with my family. None of us are vaccinated, and we will not wear masks. Thankfully, we have Priests here that have a spine. You are exactly why the Church is dying.”
Washington, D.C.-based radio host Larry O’Connor had just one question: “Why are so many priests in this country trying to convince me to become Baptist?”
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