Mexican Bishops Respond to Flu

Urge Citizens to Take Precautions

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MEXICO CITY, APRIL 28, 2009 ( As the swine flu epidemic continues to cause panic in Mexico, one of the nation’s bishops recalled that health is both «a gift of God and a task for everyone.»

Bishop Florencio Olvera Ochoa of Cuernavaca, a tourist town an hour and a half south of Mexico City, noted this on Sunday during a homily in which he urged solidarity with those who have been sickened by the swine flu.

«Health is a gift of God and a task for everyone; let us take precautions, but let us not fall into a panic that aggravates the crisis,» he recommended.

Bishop Olvera Ochoa joined with other Mexican prelates to speak up about the epidemic, which might have caused as many as 152 deaths in Mexico as of today.

A statue of the Christ of Health was processed through the streets of Mexico City over the weekend, for the first time since 1850, when Mexico was facing another epidemic.

The statute has been used for processions at times when Mexico suffered droughts, epidemics or floods, and «if this is being done today it is because the [current] situation is considered very grave and worthy of the taking up again of this tradition,» said Father Hugo Valdemar, spokesman of Cardinal Norberto Rivera, archbishop primate of Mexico.

In the name of the Mexican episcopal conference, a statement was issued today by the group’s secretary-general, Auxiliary Bishop José Leopoldo González of Guadalajara, in which the prelates called on Mexicans to follow the indications issued by the nation’s health offices.

The authorities, the statement affirmed, «have announced that the situation is under control; therefore we make the invitation to take up an attitude of prevention and follow to the detail the recommendations that are periodically given.»

Most vulnerable

The auxiliary bishop of the southern Pacific city of Oaxaca, Oscar Campos Contreras, called for solidarity, urging people to be attentive to their health, «especially in the most vulnerable environments and sectors.»

He called on authorities to ensure that the necessary information about precautionary measures reaches the indigenous communities.

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