Dagupan (Agenzia Fides) - "The epidemic of fear of the unknown is spreading and we must return to the basics of our Catholic faith. Let us not leave God out of the threat of COVID 19. Our first combat gear against all sickness is prayer. There is no cure without God willing it. We cannot win over sickness without God": said Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, at the head of the community of Lingayen Dagupan and President of the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, in a pastoral letter sent to Agenzia Fides. The Archbishop exhorts the Catholics to intensify prayer and penance, while "public health" is undergoing an emergency, in the new coronavirus epidemic (Covid-19).
The Archbishop wrote: "God has powers beyond human sciences. The Covid-19 emergency should not be addressed without faith in God and without trust in the power of prayer. Even if we trust in the power of human intelligence for inventions and medical treatments, more than ever, we need God more. People need the Lord. The world rests in the loving hands of God".
"The Covid-19 - notes the Archbishop - is an invitation for greater prayer and more penance. Be informed through media about the disease but do not forget to pray. If you choose to stay at home, pray the rosary at home with the family. Do not let a day pass without family rosary. Our Blessed Mother in many of her apparitions has taught us that prayers can stop wars and natural catastrophes".
The President of the Filipino Episcopate urges to remember two well-known events in national history: "We must not forget the battle called La Naval de Manila in 1646 (when the Spanish repulsed the attack of the Dutch ships, entrusting themselves to the Queen of the Rosary, ed.) And the peaceful EDSA revolution of 1986. If thirty years ago we stopped the tanks with the crowns of the Rosary and our ancestors defended the Catholic faith in the battle of the Manila Bay in 1646 praying the Rosary, why do we still ignore or doubt the power of the Rosary to stop any disease and evil?".
"The mystery of Covid 19 is attacking not only our bodily health, but also our spiritual life and Catholic values. We must be cautious and be wise", urged the Prelate. "The core of our faith is communion in love and in mercy. We are now advised to live in isolation from each other. From looking for the face of God in each other, we are now advised to look to our neighbors as possible infected, as threats and not as brothers", remarks the text of the letter.
"Faith and social responsibility are twins. Our faith requires us to work for the kingdom of God. It is part of social responsibility not to spread misinformation and stop alarming voices. Now we are dealing with the disease as if God had nothing to do with it or could do nothing about it", he said. The Archbishop suggested everyone to follow the advice of scientists and medical experts, without forgetting the spiritual aspects. "God also makes use of the authorities of the Department of Health to guide us. Let us pray for them. Let us fight panic and fear", he said. "Let us not forget faith with virtues such as prudence, hope, mercy, love and discipline: this period puts to test Catholic virtues", he added.
After President Rodrigo Duterte announced "community quarantine" for Manila for at least a month, the dioceses canceled Masses and all religious services in churches. "We are experiencing a difficult time for everyone. We must pray and do penance for the safety and health of humanity", says Alex Rey, a Catholic from Manila, to Fides. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 16/3/2020)