“We express deep concern and solidarity for the terrible situation in Italy due to the deadly attack of the coronavirus. We extend our heartfelt condolences to all the families who have lost their loved ones in recent days. We pray for all the victims who are still in hospitals and homes, in Italy, Pakistan and around the world. We pray for doctors, medical and paramedical staff: may the Almighty God preserve them and give wisdom and faith to continue to serve the sick population”: says to Agenzia Fides Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, at the head of the “Mariam Siddeeqa” Capuchin Custody Pakistan, a nation where Covid-19 records over 1600 infected (with over 20 deaths) and the government have imposed a total “lockdown”, following the example of China and Italy, in order to control the spread of the virus.
All religious activities have also been suspended. In recent days the friars called for a special prayer dedicated to Italy: “Our prayers – notes Fr. Nadeem – are for Italian citizens who suffer and for all priests, friars, and nuns who are cultivating the seed of faith and preaching the Word of God, offering solidarity and service to the poor. May Almighty God protect all the faithful in the world from this monstrous virus and eliminate it immediately”.
The special “holy hour” lived by the community of friars of the “Mariam Siddeeqa” was led by the Custos, Fr- Francis Nadeem, and was held at St. Francis Friary, Kot Lakhpat Lahore. All the participants offered prayers for the people of the entire world and especially for Italy, Iran, Spain, Belgium, USA, UK and China where the number of deceased and infected people is very high.
On this occasion the friars remembered and offered prayers for two deceased friars; one from Venezia Province, Br. Giampiero Vignandel, who died in Trento where he ministered in particular at a local soup kitchen for the poor; another was Br. Luis Gabriel Carillo, of the Custody of Ecuador, who died in Madrid where he was attending the course on Franciscanism. The Custos appealed families of the Christian faithful in Pakistan “to continue prayers in their homes” and assured that “we all will continue holding such prayer gatherings till the end of this pandemic”.
Fr. Francis Nadeem, who is also Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, also oversaw the dissemination of an information booklet on the coronavirus, distributed to all religious communities. The Commission has invited the faithful of all religions to pray daily in homes, mosques, churches, temples to ask for the elimination of the virus. Religious leaders, he says, “also in this emergency phase give their contribution to the good and prosperity of the nation”.