The International Religious Impact of COVID-19 After One Full Year: Stories and Data

EWTN News in Depth speaks to attorneys, medical specialists, recovered COVID patients and clergy throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Montse Alvarado hosts April 23 edition of EWTN News in Depth
Montse Alvarado hosts April 23 edition of EWTN News in Depth (photo: EWTN)

This week, EWTN News In Depth takes the pulse on COVID-19 and its impact on the Church after one full year. Experts and reporters join host Montse Alvarado to cover spiritual, physical and legal consequences of the virus and its restrictions in the U.S. and Europe. 

This April 23 episode also includes personal stories from doctors and patients on the frontline of COVID-19, including a member of the EWTN family: correspondent Erik Rosales.


Who’s Back in the Pews

Key takeaways from the April 23 Top Story:

  • Easing Up: Forty U.S. states have stopped restricting indoor worship, up from 20 states one year ago in May 2020.
  • Looking Back: Bleak footage of Pope Francis alone in the rain last year reminds viewers how even St. Peter’s in Rome was shuttered to pilgrims for a time.
  • Global Church Attendance: In Ireland, going to Mass is temporarily a criminal offense, reports EWTN’s Colm Flynn — although at least one priest is saying Mass anyway. Watch the show to find out which other European countries are placing heavy restrictions on indoor worship, and what countries have found health safety alternatives.

Catholic and Jewish leaders across the country also discuss how religious entities have counteracted discriminatory government policies and fearmongering based around health safety concerns. 

Jason Adkins, the director and general counsel of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, talks about working with the state to make sure that liquor stores and casinos weren’t being favored over churches.

Rabbi Mitch Rocklin, the president of the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty, speaks about how the Jewish community worked equally hard to keep schools open. He says, “We can look at this as a silver lining. ... We’ve heard from a lot of people of different faith backgrounds and worked together with them.”

They also answer the question, “Have reopened churches and religious schools increased community spread of COVID-19?” Watch the full discussion here to find out this and more.


Supreme Court Shields Worshippers 

Attorneys Mark Rienzi and Gabriela Gonzalez-Araiza break down lawsuits out of New York and California dealing with unequal restrictions placed on houses of worship that reached all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

From Gabriela Gonzalez-Araiza (former Fifth Circuit clerk): “The court has stated now very clearly that if there is any similar secular activity that’s being treated more favorably than a religious activity, that’s going to trigger strict scrutiny, and that’s a very difficult barrier for the government to overcome.”

From Mark Rienzi (president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty): “As the courts started to say to the government, ‘What’s your reason for thinking that church is more dangerous than a casino?’ Turns out the government didn’t have proof. So it was the courts asking for proof that really broke through.”

Watch the full panel:


“God Had Me There for a Reason.” 

Now-recovered EWTN News Nightly Correspondent Eric Rosales says that he could feel the Holy Spirit at times in the hospital where he battled COVID-19. He also shares about the bond that he formed with a patient on the other side of the hospital wall.

Pulmonologist and Critical Care Specialist Dr. Eustace Fernandes says “it’s incredible” how much doctors have adapted as they’ve learned more about the virus and shares examples about how treatments have changed. Click through to the full show on YouTube below for Dr. Fernandes’ thoughtful perspective about how people on the frontlines can approach the suffering they face daily.


Another Case to Watch: COVID Cash and Catholic Schools

Also on this week’s show, a group of religious schools and independent colleges have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that a state constitutional amendment in South Carolina discriminates against Catholics and African Americans. 

Here’s some history that might be helpful: The legislation goes back to the late 1800s, when large waves of racial and religious minorities migrated to the U.S. and sparked anti-immigrant sentiment. The not-so-warm welcome caused many states to enact amendments to prevent schools that served these minorities from receiving public funds.

Why is it a federal suit if this is a Carolinian complaint? Nearly-identical “Blaine amendments” are still on the books in dozens of states — that’s why. The current result of the one in South Carolina is that Catholic Schools serving students under the poverty line are being denied COVID relief funds. The good news is that you can hear from one of these school principals and her attorney directly on EWTN News in Depth.

Healed Through Prayer

Finally, don’t miss this faith-building story from EWTN News in Depth, April 23:

The President of Our Sunday Visitor Institute says that he was “Prayed back to life.” Join EWTN’s Mark Irons as he talks to Jason Shanks about the novena that helped him beat coronavirus after a harrowing battle. 

Watch the full show: