The son of Antonin Scalia, Father Paul Scalia, attended the event at the White House announcing Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Following the controversy surrounding that event — and the reports of so many who were there contracting the coronavirus — Father Scalia posted the following statement in the bulletin of St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church, Virginia, where he is pastor:

Dear Friends in Christ,

As I mentioned in my last email, on Saturday, September 26th, I attended the announcement of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination for the Supreme Court in the White House Rose Garden. Judge Coney Barrett clerked for my father years ago and remains a friend of the family. I attended the event with my mother, brother, and sister-in-law.

Upon arrival at the White House I was immediately given a rapid test for Covid-19. Along with other guests, I was sequestered until we were notified that we had tested negative and that we could remove our masks. Only then were we escorted to the Rose Garden and seated with others who had been similarly tested and received negative results.

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. 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.

As regards the impact on the parish and school, I was on retreat all last week and had little interaction with staff and other priests before I left. Further, I have not been in the school at all since the White House event. 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.

Thanks be to God, my test results came back negative for Covid-19 (as did those for my family members present at the event). Thank you for your many prayers and kind words. At the recommendation of my doctor and per CDC guidelines, I will continue to quarantine through Friday.

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. Nevertheless, I apologize that they did not follow my own expectations, caused disquiet and anxiety, and have distracted from the work of the Gospel.

Through the intercession of our Lady and Saint James, may the Lord bless and keep you.

Sincerely in Christ,
Father Scalia