JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to reflection on the importance of faith and science during this pandemic. We journey inside a Catholic monastery in rural Georgia. Rickey Bevington from Georgia Public Broadcasting is our guide.
RICKEY BEVINGTON: It's a way of life that traces back to St. Benedict in 5th century Italy, a Trappist monastery devoted to the strict observance of Christian worship here in rural Conyers, Georgia, 28 men called to live together in poverty, prayer and silence. But not even a sacred cloister can keep out a deadly virus.
FATHER AUGUSTINE MYSLINSKI, Abbot Monastery of the Holy Spirit: Our seniors, we love them. We just love them. And we wanted to protect them.
RICKEY BEVINGTON: Abbot Augustine has led this community for four years. Many of the monks here are in their 70s and 80s. Four are over 90, making them more at risk of dying from COVID-19. This religious community does live a mostly cloistered life behind these abbey walls. But it may surprise you just how public the Monastery of the Holy Spirit is. Every year, some 80,000 visitors of all faiths come for multiday retreats to sing and pray right alongside the monks, to picnic, or just stroll the more than 2,000 acres of beautiful rural landscape. Brother Callistus is the monastery cellarer, its chief operating officer. Overnight, he shuttered the monastery food bank, gift shop, church, and retreat house.
BROTHER CALLISTUS CRICHLOW, Monastery of the Holy Spirit: I guess nobody expected that it would be this long, but that's the reality of what we're living with here.
RICKEY BEVINGTON: Even the monastery doctor was only recently allowed in. He had attended to the monks via phone and video chat.
SISTER BEATRICE POTTER, Monastery of the Holy Spirit: I think I talked to him or texted him every day about one issue or another.
RICKEY BEVINGTON: Sister Beatrice lives alone in a separate building on the monastery grounds. She left her life as a dermatologist to live with very little human contact.
SISTER BEATRICE POTTER: And so, when the pandemic happened, whoa.
RICKEY BEVINGTON: Sister Beatrice went from hermit to doctor to 28 monks.
SISTER BEATRICE POTTER: I love taking care of people and I love taking care of the monks, very different, though, from the previous 10 years.
RICKEY BEVINGTON: While the development of some coronavirus vaccines is tied to research in cell lines derived from aborted fetuses many years ago, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not use or include any fetal tissue. The Vatican has assured the world's estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics that getting vaccinated against coronavirus is a duty to pursue the common good.
FATHER AUGUSTINE MYSLINSKI: What faith says to science is, serve humanity. This is faith's dialogue with science. Please serve humanity. And I think science does in so many beautiful ways. We're seeing it right now with the vaccine.
RICKEY BEVINGTON: Both Pope Francis and his conservative predecessor, Pope Benedict, have received the vaccine. Abbot Augustine says science and faith provide hope.
FATHER AUGUSTINE MYSLINSKI: It's a golden opportunity for humanity to come together and support each other and help each other through this. We're all in this together. And how can we help each other to get to the final end?
RICKEY BEVINGTON: A question seven billion people will be asking as they emerge from their own confinement. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Rickey Bevington in Conyers, Georgia.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you, Rickey Bevington, for taking us inside that very special place.