Archbishop Soc: ‘Don’t forget the poor’ amid Covid-19 spread
Catholics wear protective masks as they pray at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Parañaque City on March 11, 2020. ELMARC LIM
By Roy Lagarde
March 11, 2020
As cases of coronavirus continue to rise in the Philippines, a Catholic archbishop said the poor must not be forgotten in the rush to address the health concerns.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said the poor deserve protection for they barely have access to basic services, they are the “most vulnerable”.
“They who have less in life must have more of our concrete love. Do not forget the poor,” Villegas said in a pastoral message for his archdiocese issued March 10.
He said that more attention must be provided to poor families who are living in cramped spaces and deprived of health benefits and hygiene facilities.
“More help must be given to them in our parishes; more care must be available to them,” he said.
The church official released the statement as the country recorded 49 cases of coronavirus as of March 11.
Villegas said that as the virus spreads, so is the “epidemic of godless fear of the unknown”, asking the faithful to return to the “basics of our Catholic faith”.
“Let us not leave God out of the threat of COVID 19. Our first combat gear against all sickness is prayer. There is no cure without God willing it. We cannot win over sickness without God,” he said.
The archbishop also stressed that the Covid-19 crisis is an invitation for greater prayer and more penance.
Be informed through media about the disease but do not forget to pray. If you choose to stay at home, pray the rosary at home with the family.
“Do not let a day pass without family rosary. Our Blessed Mother in many of her apparitions has taught us that prayers can stop wars and natural catastrophes.
Sacraments of healing
The archbishop also urged priests to bring the sacraments of healing to the sick and to accompany health workers.
“The anointing of the sick is from Christ, the healer Himself,” he said.
He stressed that the times demand caution but not to the extent that it will “numb and leave us motionless in anxiety” and “and neither can we be reckless as to ignore the mysterious disease”.
“Do not forget faith with prudence, hope with mercy and love with discipline—our time tested Catholic virtues,” Villegas said.