Islamabad (Agenzia Fides): "In this moment of pain and suffering, I invite all the faithful of the diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi to observe a day of prayer and fasting on Friday 20 March 2020 to combat the threat of COVID-19": is the appeal issued in a pastoral letter sent to Agenzia Fides by Mgr. Joseph Arshad to the faithful of the diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, led by him. Archbishop Joseph Arshad states in the text: "We will pray in particular for those who are infected, for the efforts made by the authorities, for those in the medical and scientific fields who fight the virus and for all those who feel anxious, so that the almighty merciful God may bring strength, comfort and healing for all".
The Archbishop observes: "While the world today is faced with the dangerous virus that affects various countries, I wish to express my closeness to those who are affected by the virus and to the health workers who take care of the sick". And he adds: "History is the testimony that every time humanity is challenged by any natural or man-made disaster, the Church has been at the forefront to help the needy humanity". "The service of the suffering humanity - he notes - is actually a Christian vocation. In this special period of Lent, we are even more worried about human beings and, in the current situation, I encourage everyone to pray and be at the service of people who suffer because of the disease". Archbishop Arshad called on the faithful to collaborate with the government of Pakistan and take the precautionary measures seriously.
Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Karachi, also announced the suspension of Holy Masses in Karachi and of all Lenten celebrations and prayer meetings for the next three weeks. In a video message to the faithful he urged all Pakistani citizens to cooperate with the government's Department of Health and follow the guidelines given for the protection of all. The Cardinal said: "I invite people of all faiths, to be united and pray for Almighty God to protect humanity and the world from this COVID-19 pandemic". (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 18/3/2020)