WASHINGTON, D.C., April 2, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Both President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have called on priests and other religious ministers to avoid religious gatherings with large congregations.
“My biggest disappointment is that churches can’t meet in a time of need,” Trump said during his COVID-19 press briefing on April 1.
“This is really a great time for a church to be together, for people to get together on a Sunday or any day, and meet,” the president admitted. “And yet, if you do that, if you do it close, then you’re really giving this invisible enemy a very big advantage.”
During Nightline on ABC, Vice President Mike Pence said he was “so grateful to churches and synagogues and places of worship around America that have heeded the president’s coronavirus guidelines for America.”
“We really believe this is a time when people should avoid gatherings of more than ten people,” he cautioned. “And so, we continue to urge churches around America to heed to that.”
He did not explain why large facilities — for instance, cathedrals — should be limited to a congregation of only ten people.
In fact, Cardinal Raymond Burke remarked that many “of our churches and chapels are very large. They permit a group of the faithful to gather for prayer and worship without violating the requirements of ‘social distance.’”
Pence pointed out that he and his wife Karen, as well as the president, have been “enjoying worship services online.”
I am watching a great and beautiful service by Pastor Jentezen Franklin. Thank you! @Jentezen
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2020
On March 21, Vice President Pence said during a press briefing that he and the president “want to thank all the religious leaders from every community of faith in the country making the hard choice to suspend services, to have online services, even while those ministries are continuing to support food banks and come alongside the most vulnerable.”
“And, of course, the chorus of prayers that is coming up from communities of faith around the country is making the difference that it always has in the life of this nation,” Pence emphasized.
“The president and I promised … to remind people that on the weekends that you’re not in the pews, it’s still a good … idea to … go ahead and make that donation,” he added. “Because all the ministries are continuing to play a vital role in our communities, and we encourage your continued support.”
President Trump had declared March 15 a “National Day of Prayer” to ask God “for protection and strength” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his proclamation, he pointed out that in times of great need, “Americans have always turned to prayer to help guide us through trials and periods of uncertainty.”
While countless Americans were forbidden to participate in Mass and other religious services already in mid-March, the president said “we must not cease asking God for added wisdom, comfort, and strength, and we must especially pray for those who have suffered harm or who have lost loved ones.”
President Trump asked believers “to pray for the health and well-being of your fellow Americans and to remember that no problem is too big for God to handle.”
He quoted “the holy words” of 1 Peter 5:7 in his proclamation. “Cast all your care upon him, for he careth for you,” the Scripture says.
“Let us pray that all those affected by the virus will feel the presence of our Lord’s protection and love during this time. With God’s help, we will overcome this threat,” Trump said.
A second intention listed by Trump was “to pray for those on the front lines of the response, especially our Nation’s outstanding medical professionals and public health officials who are working tirelessly to protect all of us from the coronavirus and treat patients who are infected; all of our courageous first responders, National Guard, and dedicated individuals who are working to ensure the health and safety of our communities; and our Federal, State, and local leaders.”
In conclusion, the president emphasized that through prayer, as well as acts of love, “we will rise to this challenge and emerge stronger and more united than ever before.”