Faith, Science and COVID-19
By Father Kenneth Wasilewski
During the last months, and for the foreseeable future as the process of reopening takes shape, decisions affecting us as individuals and society as a whole have largely been based on guidance offered by agencies like the CDC as well as state and local health departments. 
One of the hallmarks of such agencies is their reliance on scientific consensus to formulate their recommendations — even if they’re unpopular at times. We’ve probably encountered articles or opinions on social media or the internet trying to undermine some of these recommendations or cast doubt on the seriousness of the threat. Often such efforts are based on the opinions of one or more experts whose personal analysis differs from the current scientific conclusions. 
Sometimes, however, such views are based on nothing more than spurious claims by those with a conspiratorial mindset. But the popularity of a theory in social media can never make it be a scientific fact. The only “fact” in some of these cases is that a given opinion is considered by some to be one.
As Catholics, we should recognize the proper role that science plays in advancing the common good. Likewise, we should also recognize the relationship that exists (or should exist) between our religious faith and empirical science. This is a topic unto itself, but for purposes here, this relationship can be summed up as a common pursuit of truth realized in both its physical/empirical and metaphysical /spiritual dimensions. 
Both scientific enquiry and our religious faith are seeking to discover and share the same thing: truth. Each has something to offer in the effort to benefit humanity. However, each seeks to discover its own particular category of truth. As such, each has its own methodology and scope which should be acknowledged and respected. But neither can do away with the other without suffering a loss, or risking an impoverishment, to its own quest. 
Regrettably, many people — even many Catholics — have fallen victim to the notion that faith and science are somehow at odds with each other. Such opinions, like some of the dissenting opinions regarding the pandemic, are often based in conjecture, isolated examples or unsubstantiated claims. Nevertheless, they persist. 
As Catholics we recognize that the current battle against the physical effects of the virus, while having implications for our lives of faith, needs to be waged with weapons science can provide. At the same time, we also recognize that being warriors in this battle means being strong spiritually and engaging in it in such a way that is most advantageous to our own souls and those of others. Furthermore, we also recognize that the societal and personal challenges that must be confronted along the way are likewise opportunities for spiritual growth.
What does all of this mean for us as we continue to live under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic? It means that as good Catholics, part of our personal and moral responsibility should be to continue to base our choices and our responses in scientifically based recommendations — rather than internet conjecture — recognizing the proper role that empirical science must play in overcoming this threat. 
Likewise, we should also recognize the opportunities that God affords us in the midst of it to grow closer to Him and others, thereby making good use of those opportunities.