ASIA/PHILIPPINES – In the pandemic, the path is compassion

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Manila – The path indicated by Christ is compassion, and it is the path that Christians are called to follow. This is the appeal released by Msgr. Marlo Mendoza Peralta, Archbishop of Nueva Segovia , who invited the priests of his diocese to be “authentic pastors, dispensers of compassion” in the midst of the difficulties and sufferings of the pandemic. “As priests – he says in a note sent to Agenzia Fides – while fearing and paying attention to the Covid virus, let’s not let our fears paralyze us in action, forgetting the people who need us”. “Do not hesitate to face the challenges posed by the pandemic with courage, but go towards the faithful showing mercy and compassion”, he urged. The existing restrictions to contain the growing cases of Covid-19 must lead us “to find creative ways to provide pastoral assistance and spiritual comfort to the needy”, the Archbishop remarked.
It is necessary to start from the Eucharist: in fact, he said, people who suffer greatly from the health and economic crisis “always want the Eucharist as their source of strength. They are waiting for us to celebrate Mass for them, let’s not disappoint them”.
The message also reminds priests of the need to dispense Sacraments such as Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick, especially to those who are seriously ill or on the verge of death. The Prelate urges priests to take an example from frontline health workers, who, despite fears, continue to take care of Covid-19 patients, observing preventive health measures. “If these doctors and nurses continue to provide health care to COVID-19 patients, all the more we priests can and must take care of their souls”, added Msgr. Peralta. Shielding oneself with one’s fear, he remarked, “cannot be an excuse to refuse to administer the Anointing of the Sick. Let us be creative, devising ways to provide additional protection for ourselves and to show the compassionate face of Christ to those who surround us”, he wished.
Even the Bishop of Batanes, Msgr. Danilo Ulep, encouraged priests, religious and laity to face the pandemic “with courage and faith”. “We are all called to show resilience, mutual communion, auism and charity in the face of this tragedy”, he said, inviting the faithful to live the special spirit of mutual Christian solidarity and charity, in spiritual communion and a sense of fraternity.