The Indonesian Catholic community is in prayer and is living a time of waiting and fear for the outbreak of Covid-19 which broke out in the Church of Medan, capital of the province of North Sumatra: the local Archbishop, the Capuchin Kornelius Sipayung tested positive for Covid-19 and is now hospitalized in the city’s Martha Friska hospital. According to information sent to Fides by the local Church, the priest is in stable condition and lives his illness in prayer and trusting in the work of doctors and in the help of God.
“The news must not frighten our hearts, but only give us information and invite us to be cautious”, said Father Benjamin Purba, Vicar of the Archdiocese of Medan, to the faithful, who spoke to the microphones of Radio Maria and through the channels used by the diocesan Commission for social communications.
Archbishop Sipayung has appointed Father Purba as spokesman and moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Medan, for the ecclesial and civil sphere, until health allows him to return to apostolic service.
The spokesman said that Archbishop Sipayung, the Cappucin Fr. Michael Manurung, Vicar General, and the Carmelite Fr. Frans Borta Rumapea, Secretary General of the Archdiocese were tested positive for Covid-19. In the cluster that touched the local Church, the Claretian Fr. Romuald Nairun, episcopal vicar for the religious and president of the Catholic Foundation for Education, Father Jodgy Morison Turnip, and a woman who works in the episcope have also been infected with Covid-19.
As a precaution, Fr Petrus Simarmata, at the head of pastoral programs, and Father Fernandus Saragi, at the head of archdiocesan property, as well as a religious who worked in contact with sick priests, are in isolation in their rooms.
Father Purba invited all those who, starting from 1 July, came in contact with the priests who have contracted the virus to consult a doctor, hoping that “the pandemic will not cause unjustified fear and find ways to protect human relations”. “Covid-19 may be able to take away human life, but there is one thing that it cannot take away, namely our humanity”, said the moderator, urging Catholics, in the local Church and throughout Indonesia, “to accompany our Bishop and sick priests with incessant prayer”. “For now – Father Purba said – we cannot visit them. Now let us pray for them and ask God to console their hearts, to guide doctors, and that the medicines have effect for a speedy recovery”.