Charles Pope, the pastor of the Holy Comforter Saint-Cyprian Roman Catholic Church, recently tested positive for the coronavirus, after he advised his congregation not to be afraid of being diagnosed with the deadly disease.
He was admitted to the hospital with a high fever on July 27. A notice was later issued informing people who attended the church’s sermons between July 26 and 27 to quarantine, due to possible exposure.
That same day, Pope spoke via a Catholic radio show, about individuals who’ve chosen not to return to church during the pandemic, as being “lukewarm” Catholics.
“About a third of my people have come home, that’s it,” he said, referring to the people who had come back to attend in-person service. He mentioned that the elderly and others who are vulnerable should not attend.
“I think a good number, at least half of that number who haven’t come, were the lukewarm,” he continued. “We may have lost them forever. Because in effect, we said: ‘Look, your physical health is more important than your spiritual health.’… I think we’ve made a lot of big mistakes.”
In an article on July 18, he said to his readers:
“My take is that fear is a far more serious ailment than COVID-19.”
In May, Pope wrote another article titled: “Coronavirus, where is thy sting? Why this gripping fear is useless”, calling for a sensible, slow reopening [of the country] as COVID-19 cases began declining.
“The vast majority of people who get the coronavirus will survive. Some will be only mildly symptomatic, some will be severely ill, and yes, some will die. People will also keep dying every day of heart disease, cancer, from strokes, and in automobile accidents.”
Following his positive diagnosis, the church released a statement saying that it had been following quarantine guidelines, including promoting face masks and social distancing, using hand sanitizer, and wiping down the pews after every Mass.
The building is also being deep cleaned this week “as a precaution,” the church statement said.
In an online update, the church stated that Pope has since returned home from the hospital to recover and, along with church seminarians, will be self-isolating.