By Lisa Zengarini
As England enters a second lockdown until December 2, Bishop Paul Mason, head of the Healthcare and Mental Health Department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), has urged prayers and support for healthcare workers, carers and all workers providing essential services. Catholics across the Country have been invited to join Cardinal Vincent Nichols’ call to daily prayer at 6pm by offering thanks and prayers for all frontliners.
In his message, Bishop Mason acknowledged the increased availability now of personal protective equipment (PPE), which should reduce the risks to which those on the front line are exposed. “However,” he said, “protecting physical health is just a first step, and we ought to strive to serve the mental health needs of these workers with similar devotion.” Everybody “can play a part when it comes to looking out for the mental health and wellbeing of the people who usually care for us,” he added.
Quoting Pope Francis’ call to “look to the example of the Good Samaritan” in his recent Encyclical Fratelli tutti, the British lead bishop for Healthcare and Mental Health has therefore urged Catholics “to extend the hand of friendship, and to embrace life as a time for meaningful interactions with our fellow men and women. Prayerful solidarity with those who are working through this pandemic, especially in the healthcare and care sectors, can be turned into positive action when coupled with something as simple as a phone call or email to ask how someone is feeling or if they need anything,” he said. “Amid the challenges which a lockdown inevitably presents, let us also pray for the grace to see it as an opportunity to grow in love and care not just for ourselves and our families, but for all those around us, to whom we are inextricably linked through our shared pursuit of the common good,” Bishop Mason concluded.
More than 21,000 new cases were reported in the United Kingdom on 9 November, bringing the total number of cases to 1,213,363. More than 49,000 deaths are attributed to Covid-19 from the beginning of the pandemic.