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Cardinal asks Catholics to pray for Indonesia as virus spreads

Church yet to decide what to do about Holy Week celebrations as Easter nears
Cardinal asks Catholics to pray for Indonesia as virus spreads

Indonesian Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo has released a video message urging Catholics to be vigilant and steadfast in prayer as the country faces the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: Konradus Epa/UCA News)

Published: March 19, 2020 08:33 AM GMT
Updated: March 20, 2020 05:19 AM GMT

Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta has released a video message asking Catholics in Jakarta Archdiocese to pray for Indonesia during the coronavirus crisis.

The prelate, who is also chairman of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference (KWI), sought to allay growing fears about the spread of the virus in the three-minute video posted on YouTube on March 18.

“I call on [my] brothers and sisters to take heed of our national leaders and try not to panic and worry. We hope and believe that everything will return to normal,” Cardinal Suharyo said.

Expressing gratitude to medical workers and others battling to stem the outbreak since the first two cases were announced early this month, he called the current situation “a challenge to humanity and faith.”

“Let us pray for our brothers and sisters who become victims of this virus. For those who died from this virus, may their souls rest in eternal peace. For those who are sick, may they be healed,” Cardinal Suharyo said. 

“Let us pray for our national leaders, medical workers and all individuals involve in efforts to restore normality. May God bless them with everything they need so that they can meet their responsibilities.” 

Cardinal Suharyo also called on Catholics to grow in faith, brotherhood and compassion during the crisis. “May our Merciful God take care and protect all of us,” he said.

Concluding the video message, Cardinal Suharyo said his archdiocese has issued guidelines concerning liturgical activities which parishes should follow.

They include disinfecting church interiors before holding Eucharistic celebrations, providing hand sanitizers, emptying fonts of holy water and placing collection boxes at church entrances. The guidelines also call for church compounds to be sprayed with disinfectant if possible. 

Parishes are also called upon to make Eucharistic celebrations shorter than usual.

Father Antonius Suyadi from St. James Parish in Jakarta said his parish has already been handing out face masks and providing hand sanitizers for Massgoers and will spray disinfectant inside and outside the parish church before and after Sunday Masses. 

“We will shorten Sunday Masses. We will also pay attention to social distancing, meaning that each Massgoer should sit at least one meter from one another,” the priest said, adding that non-urgent meetings have been called off. 

Archbishop Vincentius Sensi Potokota of Ende on the predominantly Catholic island of Flores announced in a video message posted on social media that Holy Week celebrations will likely be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. 

“We are waiting for input and suggestions from experts. As your bishop, I will take these into consideration and then decide the best solutions for us,” the prelate said.

He also said he would not be attending the traditional Semana Santa Holy Week festival in Larantuka, a town on the island’s eastern tip.

Semana Santa usually begins on the Wednesday of Holy Week, the highlight of which is a water procession on Good Friday when a statue of the baby Jesus is carried on a boat and taken to meet the Blessed Mother at a chapel.

Despite the spread of the coronavirus, the episcopal ordination of Father Siprianus Hormat, who was appointed by Pope Francis as bishop of Ruteng — also on Flores — went ahead on March 19 at the Assumption of Mary Cathedral Church in Ruteng.

As of March 18, Indonesia had recorded 227 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 19 deaths.

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