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Contact tracing vs. the rights of the faithful

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jun 18, 2020

In Massachusetts, Governor Baker is encouraging anyone who has participated in a “large public gathering” to be tested for the coronavirus. By “large public gathering” of course he means the Black Lives Matter demonstrations: the only large gatherings that have been allowed in Massachusetts during the past few months. The CO19 tests will be free: that is, they will be administered at public expense. And the results will be confidential.

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No such special arrangements are available to people who did not attend the BLM rallies. If you went to Mass last Sunday, or visited Grandma in a nursing home, and now you’re worried about a persistent cough, you can be tested— at your own expense. The results will not be confidential. If you are infected, a team of “contact tracers” will ask you to furnish a list of everyone you’ve met recently.

In New York, Governor Cuomo has gone a step further, instructing contact tracers that they should not ask those pesky questions of anyone who has been at a BLM event. Everyone else is expected to provide public-health officials with a list of all their friends; left-wing activists are exempt. Which means that the entire contact-tracing effort is a sham, since the likeliest sources of infection— the events that might be classified as “super-spreaders”— are not included in the study.

Nevertheless Catholic dioceses are complying with the governors’ orders, instructing pastors to take down the names of the parishioners who show up for Mass or for Confession. Being required to register by name for Mass— worse, for Confession— is a flagrant violation of the rights of the faithful. It’s a policy of dubious legality, enforced according to a gross double standard. Why are Church leaders cooperating?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: rdrabik7097 - Jun. 24, 2020 4:34 PM ET USA

    Oh, what little Faith.

  • Posted by: fwhermann3492 - Jun. 18, 2020 6:02 PM ET USA

    I have not heard of churches recording the names of people attending confession. That act itself should be reported to the Holy See. I can't believe canon law would permit such a thing.