Volume > Issue > A Pandemic Retrospective: Did We Pass the Test?

A Pandemic Retrospective: Did We Pass the Test?


By Eric Jackson | March 2023
Eric Jackson is a software developer who lives in South St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife and their four children. His work has been published previously in Saint Austin Review.

By profession I am a software developer. In my line of work, we conduct a review process called “the retrospective.” Over a relatively short period of time, covering a phase of a project — typically from one to four weeks — the team discusses what went well, what went poorly, and areas for improvement. When undertaken seriously, the process helps the team address problems that are under its control.

I am not suggesting that the Catholic Church become more like the software industry — heaven forbid — but I do think we can apply the retrospective concept constructively to determine what, if anything, we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns of the past three years.

As COVID policies varied wildly depending on the location, time of year, and so forth, I will paint with a broad brush. My goal here isn’t so much to come up with answers as to help frame the questions that all of us, but especially our priests and bishops, should be asking ourselves. Here goes.

During the early days of the pandemic, the faithful were prohibited from attending Mass. Was this prohibition prudent? Under what conditions should such a prohibition be enforced in the future? Granted, the prohibitions were imposed largely out of obedience to civil authority, but Catholic bishops likewise possess authority of their own. Under what conditions should they exercise their authority when it differs from that of civil leaders?

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