A French pastor has issued a pubic apology this week after 2,500 members of his congregation contracted coronavirus following a week-long church event, saying, "sorry to God for my selfishness."
As the Evening Standard reported, pastor Thiebault Geyer admitted that he did not take warnings against public gatherings serious enough, going forward with a week-long gathering at the Christian Open Door church in the city of Mulhouse back in February.
Though that was still in the earlier days of the spread of the coronavirus, before countries like the United States had adopted stringent measures to close non-essential businesses and recommend that people stay in their homes as much as possible, Geyer said he was sorry for not heeding the early words of caution from experts.
"I would like to apologize," he said. "Sorry to have taken this crisis lightly. Sorry to have read all the articles which tried to alert us. I couldn't listen. I'm sorry to God for my selfishness."
France has become a hotspot for the coronavirus, with more than 64,000 cases and 6,500 deaths. The virus has spread rapidly there, with more than 5,000 new cases reported on Friday alone.
The Evening Standard noted that Geyer's church gathering was responsible for sparking a significant outbreak, one that so far has been linked to the deaths of 17 people.
Geyer is not the only religious leader to come under fire after ignoring recommendations to practice social distancing by avoiding large gatherings of people. In the United States, a number of church leaders have even faced some severe consequences for ignoring state-issued orders to cease all public gatherings.
As The Inquisitr reported, Louisiana pastor Tony Spell was arrested this week for continuing to hold worship services despite the state's order prohibiting large gatherings. Last week, his church service drew more than 300 people, which prompted police to issue a warrant for Spell's arrest.
Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran said afterward that holding the church service amid the spread of the coronavirus was reckless and selfish on the part of the pastor.
"Instead of showing the strength and resilience of our community during this difficult time, Mr. Spell has chosen to embarrass us for his own self-promotion," Corcoran said at the time of Spell's arrest.
In Florida, another pastor was also arrested for continuing to hold church services that ignored the state's "safer-at-home" order.In France, Geyer said his church will be conducting all of its services online going forward.