The estimated number of those affected by the Coronavirus (officially named Covid-19) outbreak has increased dramatically in recent days. Well over 60,000 are said to have been infected in 28 countries, with over 1,600 deaths in mainland China. Though the mortality rate is relatively low, the disease’s rampage in China has caught the world’s attention.
The Vatican, in a joint initiative between the Office of Papal charities and the Missionary Centre of the Chinese Church in Italy, has reached out with help amid the Coronavirus outbreak. According to the Holy See Press Office, between 600,000 and 700,000 medical face masks were sent to three Chinese provinces that have been highly affected by the Coronavirus—Hubei, Zhejiand and Fujian—In the hopes of helping to prevent some spread of the disease.
In his general audience on Wednesday, February 12, the Holy Father asked for prayers for our brothers and sisters in China who have been impacted by the outbreak.
“Let us also pray for our Chinese brothers and sisters who suffer from this illness, so cruel. May they find the path to healing as quickly as possible,” he prayed.
The Church in China is also responding to the outbreak. The Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong announced on February 13 that public Masses would be suspended from February 15-28. The faithful in the diocese have been given a dispensation from their Mass obligation and will instead be invited to view the Mass via live stream and make a spiritual Communion.
“The next two weeks will be a crucial time to suppress the epidemic. … Some Church members may be disappointed. However, I hope that everyone can understand this is not an easy decision,” said John Cardinal Tong, Apostolic Administrator of Hong Kong.
In addition to participating in the Mass online and receiving Holy Communion spiritually, Cardinal Kong suggests that faithful in the diocese mediate on Holy Scripture, pray the Rosary, care for the health and needs of their family during the outbreak, and share with and pray for their community. He invoked the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for a swift end to the epidemic.
“We must deepen our trust in God and implement our Christian love for our neighbors and all people,” said Cardinal Kong.
Let us pray for an end to the Coronavirus epidemic and for the safety of all those affected by the disease, especially our brothers and sisters in China. Mother Mary, pray for us!