Updated: October 14, 2021 05:44 PM GMT
Bishops across Vietnam attend their online meeting on Oct. 12. (Photo courtesy of hdgmvietnam.com)
Bishops in Vietnam used their biannual meeting to offer local Catholics ways of living out their faith during the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Oct. 12, some 25 archbishops and bishops from the country's 27 dioceses attended their second biannual meeting, which was held online due to social distancing measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Also present was Singapore-based Archbishop Marek Zalewski, non-resident representative of the Holy See to Vietnam.
In a pastoral letter issued on Oct. 13, the bishops said the pandemic has not only caused physical and psychological damage to local people but has also produced negative effects on their faith life.
The situation has prevented the faithful from participating in liturgical celebrations at churches and removed their community support. “A significant number of people feel desperately anxious about their faith in the Heavenly Father’s love,” they said.
Noting there are positive signs of controlling the disease, the bishops called on Catholics to live this time as a special Lent in Christians' life by praying, fasting and doing charitable work.
We encourage you all, especially young people, to take an active part in charitable activities that help open our hearts to other people and live as Jesus' disciples
"During the pandemic, family members had the opportunity to be closer to one another, so please gather for prayers and recitation of the rosary so that you all are united in the Lord and dealing with difficulties in the hard time, as St. Paul taught that ‘be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer,’" they said.
Noting that people had to accept restrictions on eating and entertainment, the church leaders encourage them to see those limitations as an opportunity to fast in communion with Jesus' sufferings on the cross and to pray for our brothers and sisters fighting illnesses.
The bishops expressed their sincere thanks to benefactors in Vietnam and abroad who have made generous contributions to the local Church's charitable activities for Covid-19 victims.
"We encourage you all, especially young people, to take an active part in charitable activities that help open our hearts to other people and live as Jesus' disciples," the bishops said.
The prelates said Catholics in parishes know well one another's situations and wholeheartedly support one another. "We also know brothers and sisters of other faiths in our areas, so we should find ways to give succor to people in need."
They said Lent is the time to prepare for Easter, so people should live in the pandemic as they live Lent. “It does not mean we feel sorrow and disheartened, but live in the light and hope of resurrection: life will triumph over death, and light will dispel darkness.”
The bishops also called on people to celebrate the national days of prayer for healing in the pandemic and of fasting and supporting Covid-19 victims, set for Oct. 17 and Oct. 22 respectively.
Archbishop Zalewski said the local Church has been undertaking charitable activities as a clear sign of showing solidarity with the poor during the pandemic.
On Oct. 13, Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hanoi announced that he and local priests would concelebrate a solemn Mass on Oct. 17 at St. Joseph Cathedral in the capital to pray for the contagion to end soon.
Archbishop Thien, vice secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam, asked those who are 14 years old and above to abstain from meat and people aged 18-60 to fast on Oct. 22.
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