Q: Archbishop J, is COVID-19 a tool of the devil?
Well! This virus is frightening. It is spread by human-to-human contact, forcing us into isolation. It is spread in the air, which forces us to practise “social distancing”. It practises age discrimination: the elderly are dying at a rate phenomenally higher than the young. It targets the most vulnerable.
In times of danger our natural inclination is to huddle. This virus causes us to act completely against our natural instincts. When there is great trauma we hug, we reach out with a handshake or a comforting hand on the shoulder. This virus forces us to maintain personal space and distance from those to whom we feel most connected. We would normally go to visit our parents and grandparents when they need our comforting. Now, we dare not for fear of infecting them unwittingly.
Those with serious underlying medical conditions and the aged are at risk. Those who do the natural thing and huddle are at risk. If you touch your face as we tend to do all day you are at risk. This virus gets us everywhere we express our humanity.
We are naturally social beings. Our Christian tradition teaches us to care for the most vulnerable. The highest law is love of God and neighbour. This virus moves us to isolation and to see everyone as a possible enemy who could bring death. It fosters paranoia, just as it is effective at disarming the unsuspecting.
St Ignatius of Loyola called the devil the enemy of human nature. The devil takes what is good and turns it into something bad; perverts what is most characteristic of us humans and uses it against us. COVID-19 at first glance seems to qualify.