Taipei (Fides Service) – To encourage Catholics in Taiwan and all people of goodwill at this difficult time of the SARS epidemic, on May 25 Cardinal Paul Shan, President of the Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference and Bishop of Kaohsiung, issued a letter with the title “We are living a new Lent to fight SARS”.
The letter explains: “the word quarantine comes from the Latin and it means a pause or period of isolation of forty days. Obviously there is a connection with the Lenten period celebrated by the Church. During a period of isolation, freedom is limited, life is difficult, and this is all justified to avoid the virus from being passed on to others. Christian Lent also implies a sort of isolation: it consists of forty days of fasting and prayer, imitating the time spent in the desert by Jesus who chose to isolate himself”. In these times, difficult because of SARS “the Church encourages people once again to have the spirit of Lent: avoid evil and do good; sacrifice oneself for others”, practising quarantine enriched by spiritual significance.
Cardinal Shan calls on all citizens to “obey first of all the methods of prevention issued by the authorities. If we are put in quarantine we must take it seriously.” The letter concludes with six indications for Christians:
- daily examination of conscience, keeping inward peace and moral integrity;
- keep a pure heart, avoiding sin; speak with prudence, without attempting at social order;
- practise fasting and abstinence;
- pray fervently;
- do not lose hope, because “after the darkness there will be light”.
- NZ (Fides Service 2/6/2003 EM lines 30 Words: 294)