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Indonesians urged to fast, pray to beat Covid-19

Church to answer Pope Francis' call for believers of all religions to use faith against the pandemic

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Indonesians urged to fast, pray to beat Covid-19

Irene Saptatri (right), secretary of the Jakarta chapter of the Association of Indonesian Catholic Intellectuals, helps prepare aid packages for those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo supplied by Irene Saptatri)

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Catholics in Indonesia, where the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise, are being called to fast, pray and do charity work on May 14 to help beat the pandemic.

The call was made by the Indonesian Church in response to Pope Francis’ appeal on May 3 calling for May 14 to be a day of prayer, fasting and works of charity so that believers of all religions can unite spiritually to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Archdiocese of Jakarta, through the Commission of Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs, calls on parish priests … to encourage all parishioners to fast, pray and work for charity simultaneously,” Father Antonius Suyadi, who heads the commission, said in a May 11 statement.

“The aim is to pray together with all people from different religions around the world that God will help scientists to quickly find a Covid-19 vaccine and for the pandemic to end soon.” 

He also asked parishioners to help those affected by the pandemic, particularly the poor as well as marginalized and disabled people.

Speaking to UCA News, Father Suyadi said he hoped parishioners would be able to abstain from eating on May 14 from dawn until dusk. 

“Our Muslim brothers and sisters now abstain from all eating after dawn and before dusk during Ramadan. It would be better if we can fast like them. I believe many Catholics can do it as they do the same during the Lenten season,” he said.

This year Ramadan started on April 24 and will end with Eid al-Fitr on May 24.

Referring to the prayer, Father Suyadi said Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta has written a prayer addressing the pandemic for the Indonesian nation.

Cardinal Suharyo released the prayer on May 10, asking God to bless, among others, religious leaders so that they can take care of the faithful as well as the earth and all creation.

“Priests who celebrate livestreamed Masses also need to say the prayer during Eucharistic celebrations,” Father Suyadi said, adding that other archdioceses and dioceses in Indonesia have issued similar statements.

Irene Saptatri, secretary of the Jakarta chapter of the Association of Indonesian Catholic Intellectuals, said she was ready to heed the call. “The call is not only for us in Indonesia but also for all people in the world,” she told UCA News.

As of May 11, Indonesia had recorded 14,265 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 991 deaths.

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