By Robin Gomes
While acknowledging the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak, a Philippine Catholic Church official is calling on Catholics not to panic but rather to take care of themselves and others, including through prayers. “To be concerned, however, does not mean to be afraid, much less to feel helpless,” said Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila.
Timely, true information
In a post on social media on February 4, the bishop, who is chairman of the Episcopal Commission on the Laity of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, noted that “timely and true information is needed to avoid this”. “False news can cause panic on one hand, and it can also create complacency on the other hand.”
The outbreak of the new strain of coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Chinese health officials on Thursday said that 563 people had died from the virus, up from nearly 500 people the day before, and that 28,018 cases had been confirmed. On Wednesday, Chinese state run media reported a newborn had been diagnosed with the virus, just 30 hours after birth.
While urging the people to follow safety measures and habits to avoid contagion and maintain a healthy lifestyle, Bishop Pabillo stressed that “the common good and the safety of the people should be the primary consideration of governments and institutions, not political expediencies, much less, profit concerns”.
Also good news
“True and timely information” for all, he said, “includes not only the extent of the spread and the death caused but also those who have recovered and the cures that are being discovered.”
In fact, he said, “We need not only bad news but also good news, and the latter also abound.” People should be informed about the initiatives taken to show solidarity and concern to all.
In this regard, he described as “very heart-warming” the move by the Vatican to supply more than 600,000 medical masks to the provinces of Hubei, Zhejiang and Fujian. “Inspiring gestures such as these should multiply and create global solidarity,” he said.
Prayer and solidarity
Bishop Pabillo also urged Christians to make their contribution through prayer. He noted that “all through history we have seen that plagues have been stopped not only through medical means but also through prayers and great acts of charity”.
“Wherever we are, in whatever state of life, in sickness and in health, we all can pray,” he said, urging prayers for those who have died and comfort for the bereaved. “The power of solidarity in prayer and in charity,” he said, is a big resource that Christians have.
On February 2, the Philippines reported the first coronavirus death outside of China. The Philippine Department of Health (DOH) said that the 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan was admitted to a hospital in Manila on Jan. 25 with fever, cough and sore throat before he developed severe pneumonia. His female companion also tested positive.
The 3rd confirmed case of coronavirus was reported on Wednesday.
The Philippine Catholic Church had earlier announced the “oratio imperata” (obligatory prayer) initiative for people affected by the virus and to prevent a global epidemic. (Source: AsiaNews)