Updated: June 05, 2021 02:55 PM GMT
Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh blesses a statue of St. Joseph at A Luoi Church in Thua Thien Hue province on May 5. (Photo courtesy of tonggiaophanhue.org)
The head of Vietnamese bishops has urged Catholics to work with all people to fight the coronavirus and look after victims.
Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam, said people could not succeed in stemming the Covid-19 pandemic unless they are united as the effective solution to the health crisis is community solidarity.
“I would like to call on all clergy, religious and laity in the country and abroad to briskly make contributions and cooperate with all people in the Church and society in fighting against the coronavirus pandemic,” Archbishop Linh said in his open letter issued on June 4.
He encouraged them to consider the pandemic as an opportunity to show their true love for one another. Christians must acknowledge all victims of Covid-19 to be their neighbors and be ready to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn as people from around the world are brothers and sisters.
“Catholics are not allowed to exclude, discriminate, point a finger at or condemn anyone who has been infected with Covid-19 or not yet,” Archbishop Linh said.
The 71-year-old prelate urged people to support medical study centers, work with relevant authorities, give strength to health workers and health centers, and create spiritually and materially favorable conditions for quarantined places, families with relatives under medical treatment or who die, and people in economic need.
Anyone who welcomes their brothers and sisters welcomes me
He said countless people in need are keenly awaiting Catholics to carry out God’s teaching: “Anyone who welcomes their brothers and sisters welcomes me, and if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
Archbishop Linh also appreciated a Covid-19 vaccine fund worth 25.2 trillion dong (US$1.2 billion) founded on May 26 by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh. The fund, which will use money from the state budget and public donations, aims to acquire 150 million vaccine doses for 75 million people out of the total population of 98 million.
He said Vietnam faces a high risk of failing to contain the coronavirus “if we do not rally national resources and people to fight the pandemic.”
He asked all people to strictly obey basic health measures by wearing face masks, washing hands with disinfectants, keeping a safe distance away from others, avoiding gatherings and making health declarations.
Archbishop Linh said that on May 31 the Government Committee for Religious Affairs demanded the country’s 27 dioceses suspend all their religious services due to the more stubborn wave of infections even though many places have not recorded any new cases yet.
He said Catholics should follow instructions by local bishops.
In conclusion, he called on people to seek support from St. Joseph, who found happiness not only in giving up himself but in self-sacrifice.
After successfully containing the pandemic last year, Vietnam is battling a fourth outbreak that has spread more quickly to 37 cities and provinces and infected 5,250 people since late April.