People should not allow the coronavirus to serve as a vehicle for discrimination and stigma, Catholic bishops said, according to CBCP News.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo said discrimination and stigmatization of Covid-19 patients are irresponsible and need to stop.
A former Covid-19 patient himself, the bishop likened coronavirus with “leprosy at the time of Jesus”.
While leprosy can be seen externally and the coronavirus is invisible to the human eye, he said “they both have the same effect on people”.
“Both keep the infected away from other people. They are avoided by others, even by people close to them. There is the strong fear of infection in both cases, largely because of the unknown nature of the disease,” Pabillo said.
With the infection, he said, is also the blame for supposed “carelessness”. “So in both diseases, there is a stigma attached,” he said.
The prelate asked the faithful not to make those infected with Covid-19 feel that they are stigmatized.
“We follow the medical protocols but we should not shy away from those infected, but in creative ways make them feel that they are not stigmatized by the church community,” he said.
This can be done, he said, by sending them messages and praying for them.
Pabillo said sending them food, vitamins, and reading materials would also be concrete signs that they are not “forgotten”.
Bishop Patricio Buzon of Bacolod also appealed for an end to Covid-19 related hate against what he described as “modern lepers”, which everyone avoids.
“All over the world people are discriminated against because of color, culture, belief, religion, and all kinds of differences,” he said.
Buzon also appealed for prayer for the country’s healing and for the frontliners as cases of coronavirus continue to increase in the country.