The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 20, Issue 3, Autumn 2020

Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki
Pages 545-559

Social Shutdowns as an Extraordinary Means of Saving Human Life

The effects of the novel coronavirus have raised questions about the extent to which social shutdowns are appropriate. We have a responsibility to protect the lives of others and an obligation to maintain our lives and health when possible, but there are circumstances when it is just to decline certain measures that are considered extraordinary to the situation. Measures taken to protect life must be proportionate. That is, they must offer a reasonable hope of benefit and not impose excessive burdens on individuals, families, or the community. The measures enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic are not proportionate. Restrictions on family and religious activities are disproportionate to the benefit they provide, particularly to the extent that they obstruct the Church in its duty to tend to the health of souls and salvation of its members