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ITALY-CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS A sign explaining the closure of Milan's Cathedral as part of efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19  (AFP or licensors)

Italian Bishops address spread of coronavirus

The President of the Italian Episcopal conference outlines how the Church is working with civil authorities to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.

By Fr John Waters

The president of the Italian Episcopal conference has released a statement addressing the presence of the Coronavirus in Italy. Cardinal Gualterio Bassetti, who is also Archbishop of Perugia-Citta delle Peve, outlined the need to protect public health and cooperate with the state and regional authorities in order to reduce the spread of the virus.

Full cooperation with the authorities

“As President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, we feel the duty of full collaboration with the competent State and Regional Authorities to contain the epidemic risk,” the Cardinal wrote, on Monday 24th February. He said that, in this regard, the Bishops intend to give the maximum response to the situation, working from the guidance already given by medical experts.

He went on to echo the message of the prayers made when Pope Francis visited Bari on Sunday 23rd February. During the visit prayers were offered for those who were taking responsibility for preventing the spread of Coronavirus.

Reasons for realism, trust, and hope

“We are committed to doing our part to reduce bewilderment and fear,” the Cardinal wrote. He later added that “this is the time to find reasons for realism, trust and hope, which allow us to face this difficult situation together.”

Reported cases of the virus in Italy have so far been confined to the North of the country, where strong quarantine measures are in place. Schools, universities and companies have been closed and sports matches suspended. Out of 150 reported cases, 6 have resulted in death. A number of diocese’s in Italy have suspended public celebrations of Mass to help reduce the spread of the virus.

24 February 2020, 16:58