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“Ask a Priest: Should I Support Those Violating COVID Rules?”
Q: The lockdown rules here in the UK have become quite strict. I and many others think they are over the top. That being said, there is a man I know who has lost his driving job because he refused to wear a face mask. There is also a men’s gymnasium that refused to close when ordered to and is now suffering heavy fines for staying open. Both are asking for financial help, which I would like to give, but I am worried if I do, it might be sinful, as if I might be aiding and abetting civil disobedience. Where do I stand spiritually, Father? – A.A.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: The lockdowns during the pandemic have triggered a lot of debate, no doubt.
People come down on the pro and cons sides of the argument, making their case on various economic and/or medical grounds and often citing various data to bolster their case. Other factors, including the psychological and educational fallout of long-term semi-isolation, also enter the debate. These issues can’t be settled here, of course.
As to your particular case: If you want to help these people in order to keep the driver and the gym afloat financially, that is one thing.
If you want to help them so that they can continue to violate health rules, that is another issue. Here, you could be abetting the disregard of civil authority and indirectly helping to rekindle the pandemic.
The driver and the gym presumably knew the rules and chose to violate them – and thus they freely decided to risk the fines.
While the need for strict lockdowns is debatable, there are times when it helps the common good if we follow rules set down by legitimate authority even if we disagree with the rules.
In this sense, you might ask whether helping these parties financially would only encourage them to repeat their behavior. Which, of course, could aggravate the health crisis and encourage others to disregard the rules. All things considered, this might make a difficult situation even more problematic.
As an alternative you might think about donating to charities that have been overwhelmed by the pandemic, such as soup kitchens which cater to the poor and unemployed.
It might be good to take some of this to prayer. I hope that some of this helps … and that you stay safe.
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