Pope Francis Criticizes Groups Protesting COVID Lockdowns, Calls for New Political and Economic Systems

Pope Francis in a New York Times op-ed on Thanksgiving Day criticized groups that protested coronavirus lockdown restrictions, as Americans gathered to celebrate the holiday.

He praised those governments making “great efforts” to protect people from the virus and criticized “exceptions.” He then criticized groups that protested the restrictions and appeared to dismiss the idea of “personal freedom.

He wrote in the November 26 op-ed:

With some exceptions, governments have made great efforts to put the well-being of their people first, acting decisively to protect health and to save lives. The exceptions have been some governments that shrugged off the painful evidence of mounting deaths, with inevitable, grievous consequences. But most governments acted responsibly, imposing strict measures to contain the outbreak.

Yet some groups protested, refusing to keep their distance, marching against travel restrictions — as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom! 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.

It is all too easy for some to take an idea — in this case, for example, personal freedom — and turn it into an ideology, creating a prism through which they judge everything.