By Robin Gomes
As Peru is labouring under the onslaught of Covid-19 pandemic, Pope Francis is encouraging the people to look up to the crucified Christ, saying He never abandons us. The Pope expressed his closeness to the people of the South American nation in a message to Archbishop Carlos Castillo Mattasoglio of Lima.
The occasion is "mes morado", or the “purple month”, in Lima, which begins with the traditional procession with the image of “Señor de los Milagros”, the “Lord of Miracles”, on the first Saturday of October. Every October, for 332 years, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all walks of life participate in the procession through the streets of the capital, Lima, dressed in purple.
Pope Francis said he was joining the local bishops and their faithful in praying to the Crucified One, imploring His mercy to end the pandemic.
With over 821,000 cases and more than 32,000 deaths, Peru ranks 6th and 7th respectively worldwide. Among Latin American nations, it ranks 3rd, both in the number of infections and in fatalities.
Evoking the image of the crucified “Lord of Miracles”, the Pope said, “He is fixed and immobile on the cross, not by the force of the nails, but by His infinite love.” “It is the most beautiful proof of God's love for the beloved Peruvian people”, the Pope said, adding, “He shows Himself as the "Emmanuel", God-with-us. “In silence, He goes out to meet His people to give them life and comfort them with the immutable embrace of His mercy and forgiveness.”
Because of the pandemic, the “purple month” this year is not taking to the streets. However, the Pope said, this does not prevent the Lord from performing the “miracle” of reaching the thousands of hearts who recognize that “God continues to walk with His brothers and sisters and shares the uncertainty and suffering of all, especially the poorest, the excluded and the discarded”.
He does not abandon us
The Holy Father expressed his closeness with the many Peruvians who are going through hard times because of the virus, which is affecting not only their health but also their lives, “increasing the injustices, suffering, and misunderstandings that strike at their personal dignity, without distinction of religious affiliation”.
“In the face of the dismay and the feeling of helplessness that strikes everyone, with no respect for persons”, Pope Francis said, “I would like to encourage you to look once again to the Lord". "He does not abandon us; He calls us and embraces us with an infinite love that heals, comforts and saves us,” the Pope assured them.
With one of the strictest lockdowns in Latin America, the Peruvian government recently extended the current state of emergency through October 31. The 11:00 pm to 4:00 am curfew, as well as restrictions on the use of most vehicles on Sundays, remain in effect in most of Peru.
Meanwhile, quarantine and a mandatory daily curfew from 8:00 pm to 4:00 am remain in place in Apurímac (Abancay), Huamanga (Ayacucho) and Huánuco (Huánuco). In addition, the all-day Sunday curfew continues in the regions of Cusco, Puno, Moquegua, and Tacna.