Religion & Liberty Online

Rev. Robert Sirico: Churches are ‘the first of the first responders’

During the coronavirus pandemic, the media crowned a new set of heroes: healthcare workers, essential employees, and first responders. But politicians who classify church attendance as non-essential ignore the fact that churches “are the first of the first responders,” says Acton Institute President and Co-founder Rev. Robert A. Sirico.

Rev. Sirico makes the observation during a brief interview on the Fox News Channel’s Your World with Neil Cavuto, which aired on Friday, May 22.

“This is not the first time that the Church has confronted a pandemic. We have dealt with this over the ages,” he says.

Political leaders are misguided “to marginalize the Church as though it’s not an essential institution,” he continues.

He notes how the Church’s philanthropic mission makes it the charity of first resort for many of our neediest citizens:

Let’s remember that religious organizations are the first of the first responders. When people needed food, they came to our church. We provided money for people and things like that, [and] the emotional support, as well – the solidarity, the sense of hope. What do people need in our country and our world right now more than anything else? It’s a sense of hope. We have to do it in a rational way. We have to do it in a way that respects the reality of this disease and its potential – but we have to do it.

Rev. Sirico also addresses how Roman Catholic priests testify that there is a higher power than the government by being subject to two levels of authority: secular and ecclesiastical. And he outlines the practical steps and special procedures his parish, Sacred Heart of Jesus in Grand Rapids, is taking as it prepares to reopen on Pentecost Sunday.

You can watch the full interview below:

Rev. Ben Johnson

Rev. Ben Johnson (@therightswriter) is an Eastern Orthodox priest and served as Executive Editor of the Acton Institute (2016-2021), editing Religion & Liberty, the Powerblog, and its transatlantic website. He has extensively researched the Alt-Right. Previously, he worked for LifeSiteNews and, where he wrote three books including Party of Defeat (with David Horowitz, 2008). His work has appeared at, National Review, The American Spectator, The Guardian, Daily Caller, National Catholic Register, Spectator USA, FEE Online, RealClear Policy, The Blaze, The Stream, American Greatness, Aleteia, Providence Magazine, Charisma, Jewish World Review, Human Events, Intellectual Takeout,, Issues & Insights, The Conservative,, and The American Orthodox Institute. His personal websites are and His views are his own.