Father Paul Scalia, a Catholic priest and son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has apologized to his parishioners for attending a White House ceremony without a COVID-protection mask.
“Since the pandemic began it has been my desire to ease people’s fears and anxieties. My actions at the White House seemed reasonable at the time given the presumed controls in place,” Scalia said in a statement. “Nevertheless, I apologize that they did not follow my own expectations, caused disquiet and anxiety, and have distracted from the work of the Gospel.”
Scalia, who is priest at St. James Catholic Church in suburban Virginia, attended the Rose Garden ceremony late last month for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett. His brother, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, and his mother Maureen, were also in the audience. Most of the attendees were not observed wearing masks. Barrett had clerked for Justice Scalia and is a family friend.
Scalia, in an online letter to parishioners, said when his family arrived at the White House ceremony on Sept. 26, they were given a coronavirus rapid test, which came back negative. Staff then told the Scalias they could remove their masks.
“The lack of masks and social distancing at that event has become a legitimate cause of concern, especially since the President’s Covid-19 diagnosis and hospitalization,” he continued. “Further, and more immediate to the parish, it contradicts what I ask of those coming to Mass and other parish events. Some of you have reached out to me expressing your concern. I thank you for your candor; your points are well taken. Please know that my actions were based not on a rejection of those practices but on the understanding that the people present had been screened as I had been.”
Scalia said he was on retreat last week, and has since been tested again.
“Since my return from retreat, I have remained in quarantine. I have not said public Mass or heard Confessions. As soon as I heard of the President’s condition on Friday, I made arrangements to be tested for Covid-19 and was tested yesterday morning.”
Those tests came back negative for him and his family, said Scalia.