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‘Urgent Call to Pray’ – Appeal of Cardinal Bo, President of Asian Bishops, in New Statement on Coronavirus

‘The urgent call is to pray and send our sympathies to all our affected brothers and sisters’

“The urgent call is to pray and send our sympathies to all our affected brothers and sisters…”

Salesian Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon (Myanmar), makes this appeal in his new statement on ‘the Crisis of the Coronavirus,’ which His Eminence has provided to ZENIT English, and can be read in its entirety below.

While outlining the dramatic effects of the virus across the world, the Asian Cardinal concludes: “Ultimately it is the Lord of Life who protects people from all evil.”

“Let the army of prayer warriors rise in robust defiance against this sickness with prayers,” he appeals, adding: “Let the Masses and adorations be held in every church for our suffering brothers and sisters. The Church in Myanmar accompanies all the brothers and sisters and countries affected by this sad plight with prayers.”

Myanmar is emerging from decades of military rule after Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won the 2015 elections and has taken office.

The Muslim minority in Myanmar of the Rohingyas is considered by the UN to be one of the most persecuted. According to data from the Arakan Project, a humanitarian organization defending Rohingyas rights, since 2010, some 100,000 members of the minority have fled Burma (Myanmar) by sea. Violence between radical Buddhists and Rohingyas has left, since 2012, more than 200 dead and 140,000 displaced.

Here is Cardinal Bo’s full message provided to ZENIT English:

***

Dear Friends,

Peace of Christ.

The world is confronted today with a dangerous Coronavirus COVID 19 affecting 36 countries.   There are nearly 80,000 confirmed cases. 2400 succumbed to this deadly disease.  Nearly 500 million people are either in hardcore shut down conditions or in the process of being restricted to their houses.    The cause and anti-dote is still hard to decipher.  China, South Korea, Iran and Italy are at the epicenter of this mysterious disease.  The last two decades saw three deadly viruses spread: SARS, MERS and now the deadliest one: COVID 19. The virus spreads virulently in more places forcing even the powerful countries to wrench their arms in despair.  International impact of this virus attack is deadly. Economy is taking a hard hit in many countries. Tourism is in violent turbulence, markets are wobbling.  Though it is not apocalypse the WHO has declared the crisis as one of the ‘most critical challenges’ to humanity.

Our deep sympathies to people and countries affected by this lethal virus.  This is the time of universal brotherhood of humanity. It is not a time for mutual blame.   Let us remember every brother and sister affected in our prayers every day. Pope has appealed for prayer support.  He said “Let us all pray for our brothers and sisters who are distressed by the “cruel” coronavirus epidemic.”

Ultimately it the Lord of Life who protects people from all evil.  Let the army of prayer warriors rise in robust defiance against this sickness with prayers.   Let the Masses and adorations be held in every church for our suffering brothers and sisters.   Myanmar Church accompanies all the brothers and sisters and countries affected by this sad plight with prayers.

Disasters are a time for humanity’s fellowship.  The maps and borders collapses when human brokenness – through war, disaster or viral outbreak. Tears and blood of human brokenness has no language, no religion and no color.  Commendable fellowship is manifested now across continents by good people.

Disasters are also time for introspection.  Those who refuse to learn from the mistakes of history, says President Kennedy, are condemned to repeat them.

Nor only on the causes and remedies.   More on the arrogance and audacity of human institutions.   The filthy virus, not visible to eye, can bring ‘super powers’ and ‘economic powerhouses’ to knees.   Proliferation of nuclear arms, stockpiling deadly weapons, robust GDPs   has not protected any countries against the tiny invisible virus.   Biological threats are the third most dangerous risk to humanity, next only to Nuclear bombs and climate change.  Bill Gates already pleaded for countries to come together to prepare for pandemics. Dabbling with climate, genetic experiments and biological warfare by countries are explosive risks to future of humanity.  COVID 19 could be an experiment went wrong.

These are also moments of acknowledging in humility human fragility and our mortal nature.  Atheistic assertions, displaced arrogance in invincibility of arms and technological superiority have put many leaders in delusion of unbridled power.    The only super power over our lives is God.  Natural disasters, pandemics are grim reminder of our restricted existence.  We are powerless in the face of an invisible microbe attack despite stockpiling lethal arsenal of arms.  Weapons of death are available but no antidote so far this virus!  Life becomes a commodity. Sacredness of human life is superseded by economic interests.   Pope Francis has been waging a war against economic injustice and environmental injustice.

The Bible constantly urges man and woman to choose life always.    In the book of Deuteronomy (Ch 30: 19-20) the Lord’s clarion call is candid:  CHOOSE LIFE!

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I        have set   before you- life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so       that you    and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your      God, listen to his      voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life.

While emergency response is to be taken at a war footing, serious introspection needs to be taken at various levels at the ultimate meaning and destination of human life.  A world devoid of transcendental value of human life, tend to commodify everything that is sacred and reducing human life into a cog in the market economy.   Disasters and Virus pandemic periodically remind humanity that we all have only one planet: We either stand together or fall together.   Lessons need to be learned, transcending parochial interests.

Those are long term mandates.  The urgent call is to pray and send our sympathies to all our affected brothers and sisters.   Humanity will overcome because it has more grace to be compassionate.  This time too our oneness will overcome this deadly pandemic.

In Fellowship

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo., SDB – Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar.

President: Federation of Asian Bishops Conference (FABC)

[Text of Message provided to ZENIT English by Cardinal Bo]

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio, Sky, and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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