A Catholic bishop in Tamaulipas has asserted that wearing a face mask indicates a lack of faith in God, sparking controversy on social media.
“For me, at a personal level, [using] the famous face mask is to not trust God,” Antonio González Sánchez, bishop of the diocese of Ciudad Victoria, told parishioners during a Mass that was broadcast online on Sunday.
“I understand that maybe tomorrow I’ll be sick because I’m not immune to anything but just as you you see my face now [unmasked] that’s the way I am almost always,” he said. “… I go around like this because I place a lot of trust in God.”
The bishop said that he wasn’t asking others to remove their masks but rather think about how much faith they place in God.
He likened the coronavirus pandemic to leprosy and suggested that people’s prayers could help to end it.
“In these times physical leprosy doesn’t exist but we’re living through another kind of leprosy – the famous pandemic – and I think, obviously I might be wrong, that we lack faith – faith that drives us to ask God for this to end,” González said.
At one stage of his homily, the bishop backtracked somewhat, saying that face masks are “necessary” before reiterating that kneeling and praying to Jesus and God could help defeat the coronavirus.
“If you want to, you can free us of this, and above all let’s ask [God] to free us of fear,” González said. “… Very soon [I hope] to see your full face and very soon [I hope] that these pews can be filled again.”
Hundreds of social media users criticized the bishop for his remarks but but some others expressed support.
“Trusting God is one thing and not using a face mask is another. With all respect, all of us have to wear one in this pandemic, it doesn’t matter what religion we are,” wrote one Twitter user.
“The best commentary from the bishop in Tamaulipas would be silence. We trust God but following the wisdom of science, we wear masks to minimize Covid-19,” said another.
Anais Flores, another social media user, defended González, noting that his remarks expressed his personal opinion and that he didn’t direct anyone not to wear a mask.
In San Luis Potosí, meanwhile, the church is urging the public to use masks “even though the president doesn’t wish to do so.”
Despite the initiation of a vaccination program, said a church spokesman, people must continue to look after themselves and continue following sanitary protocols.
Juan Jesús Priego Rivera said President López Obrador needn’t worry because “he has an army of people, six doctors day and night, looking after him; those of us who are not the president have no one to look after us.”
The president has downplayed the value of face masks since the start of the pandemic and only wears one when traveling by air.
Source: El Universal (sp)