By Robin Gomes
The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has expressed concern for its fellow citizens and others hit by the coronavirus, officially known as Covid-19, urging prayers for them.
“We pray for all our compatriots, especially migrants and students, stranded abroad or coronavirus patients,” said Bishop Raymond Wickramasinghe of Galle, president of the Commission for Migrants of the Sri Lankan Bishops' Conference (CBCSL).
In a statement posted on the diocesan webpage on March 14, he drew attention to Sri Lankan migrant workers and students in various parts of the world, saying “these brothers and sisters of ours from countries like Italy, South Korea, Japan, Africa, Middle East and Thailand have requested our prayers”.
Attention for the poor
He also thought of others across the world who lack access to medical treatment because of poverty. “My hope is that every effort will be made to collaborate so that everyone has access to the necessary treatments to protect and heal their health.”
He addressed "all people of goodwill to feel at one with the victims and not to exclude any of the family members”. “We pray and work for their quick recovery and comfort. "
According to Bishop Wickramasinghe, “we must remain united in prayer for the victims and families who suffer". He appealed to those in power and authority to show solidarity and cooperation in the service of a future that is shaped by interdependence and shared responsibility in the entire human family.
He urged to all to be close to the victims of the pandemic and their families. “Instead pray and work for their speedy recovery and comfort.”
Gratitude for health-care workers
The CBCSL official also offered his heartfelt thanks to all the doctors, nurses, volunteers and others who are serving those affected, often risking their own safety and health. With their acts of tender love and closeness, he said, they reflect the image of Christ, the Good Samaritan.
With 3 more coronavirus infections confirmed on Monday, the country’s current caseload has risen to 21. The Sri Lankan Army said it has set up 12 centres throughout the country to quarantine inbound travellers to prevent the spread of the virus.
Sri Lanka had already closed schools, universities, cinemas and zoological gardens. Catholic-run schools have also been closed. The Archdiocese of Colombo and Chilaw Diocese have suspended public celebration of Masses and other services until 31 March.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has asked for collaboration from all sectors of society in combating the spread of the pandemic.