By Tim Swift, Catholic News Service     3/19/2020

BALTIMORE (CNS) When Msgr. Richard Woy sees Dr. William Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on television these days flanked by medical experts issuing the latest guidance on the novel coronavirus he doesn’t just see one of the top health officials in the U.S., he sees one of the faithful. 

Msgr. Woy, rector of Baltimore’s Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, said when he met Redfield and his wife, Joyce, “they had been active parishioners here for decades.” 

As Redfield helps lead the federal response to the growing threat of coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, his pastor and friends say his years of work studying viruses along with his deep Catholic faith will help guide the country through the crisis. 

“Dr. Redfield is not shy about his Catholic faith. And I think it does not compromise in any way his work as a scientist,” Msgr. Woy told the Catholic Review, the media outlet of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. “I do not believe he sees any contradiction between the two whatsoever.” 

While they are spending most of their time in Atlanta, where the CDC is based, Msgr. Woy said the Redfields have returned to Baltimore on weekends and attended Masses at the cathedral in February, serving as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. 

Although Redfield was unavailable for an interview, he said in a statement that the faith community will play an important role as the pandemic continues. 

In the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop William E. Lori has closed Catholic schools, issued a dispensation for Mass attendance and taken other measures to limit the spread of the disease. On March 14, the archbishop canceled all public Masses “until further notice.” 

“I have witnessed firsthand the impact of the faith community’s work in global disease outbreaks,” Redfield said in his statement. “The same compassion, counsel and care will be just as important as we confront this new virus and as many Americans and others around the world experience disruption in their daily lives.” 

He added, “The faith community has always stepped in to enhance response efforts where our public health and clinical settings lack the capacity or expertise to comfort patients, families and whole communities.”