Updated: September 01, 2021 05:58 AM GMT
Religious volunteers work at a field hospital for Covid-19 patients in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo courtesy of tgpsaigon.net)
Bishops in Vietnam have given detailed instructions on the administration of the Anointing of the Sick and funeral rites for Covid-19 victims during the deadly pandemic.
Bishop Emmanuel Nguyen Hong Son, head of the Episcopal Commission on Liturgy of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam, said he had received many questions from priests, religious and volunteers relating to ways to render spiritual assistance to coronavirus patients.
He said hospital patients who have not been administered the sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick should prepare well for happy deaths by making acts of perfect contrition, seeking absolution for their sins and reciting prayers of remorse "as God will forgive all our sins when we sincerely beg his pardon."
The prelate quoted Pope Francis' words: “This is the right time, the opportune moment. An act of contrition done well, and our souls will become white like the snow.”
Priests are not allowed to pay pastoral visits to Covid patients in hospitals due to health measures.
The bishop of Ba Ria Diocese also called on hospital patients to receive Jesus by making a Spiritual Communion in prayer every time they miss God.
Priests need permits from their bishops to impart sacramental absolution to patients at high risk of death
He said patients' families and volunteers who care for patients should console, pray together with them and show communion with them in a remorseful way to receive Spiritual Communion. Those people can gain plenary indulgence by detaching themselves from all sins and uniting themselves spiritually through the means of social communication with Mass, the recital of the rosary, the Stations of the Cross or other piety practices.
He said priests administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation at possible places through the individual’s confession. They must wear face masks, maintain a proper distance from the penitent and take the protection of the seal of the sacrament.
Priests need permits from their bishops to impart sacramental absolution to patients at high risk of death.
Bishop Son said that in cases where priests and deacons are not available, laity can hold funeral rites for the dead at funeral houses and cemeteries. When given death announcements, Catholic communities should pray, console and support bereaved families to express their sincere solidarity and charity.
“Catholics should pray before the Eucharist, make Eucharistic adoration, read the Scriptures for a half an hour, recite the rosary, Stations of the Cross and divine mercy to appeal to the Lord to stem the deadly pandemic, save the dead and support patients,” he said in an announcement on Aug. 30.
The Catholic Church in Vietnam has no hospital chaplains.
Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese and the neighboring dioceses of Phu Cuong and Xuan Loc have sent 950 priests, deacons, seminarians, religious and laity to voluntarily provide pastoral care and look after patients at hospitals and isolation places in the city and provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai for the past month.
The southern city lacks medical facilities and staff to serve increasing infections, so 85,200 patients with minor symptoms are being given medicines and treatment at their homes.
The Southeast Asian country has recorded 462,043 Covid cases, with 212,175 requiring treatment at hospitals, and 11,064 deaths since the contagion broke out in early 2020.