A Catholic family from Quan Hao Parish in Vietnam's Yen Bai province attend an online Mass in April. (Photo: UCA News)
Vietnamese bishops have called on Catholics to foster the spirit of faith practices and build a better society in the post-Covid-19 period.
They said preventative measures have forced the cancellation of social and religious activities over the past month, but now social distancing measures are gradually being relaxed and some dioceses are preparing to resume religious services.
They commended local Catholics for showing solidarity with other people in effectively preventing the coronavirus from spreading. They followed measures advised by government authorities and experts and suspended all public religious activities.
Bishops said many clear signs of fully rounded faith have been seen during Vietnam’s lockdown. Catholics treasure Masses, thirst for the Eucharist and express their solidarity with Pope Francis and the universal Church to pray to God to save the world from the deadly pandemic soon.
They provide emergency aid to people hit badly by Covid-19 and bear responsibility for respecting the natural, social, living and spiritual environments.
Bishops warned that the suspension of religious activities has badly affected the lives of communities. Youths will suffer disadvantages to their faith life if pastoral care, liturgical services, catechism courses and associations’ activities are not reopened soon.
“In an age of spiritual needs that are considered unimportant, young people will be easily corrupted by rampant materialism and consumerism as they could see them as their ultimate aims,” Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue and Bishop Joseph Tran Van Toan of Long Xuyen said in a public letter on May 5.
Archbishop Linh and Bishop Toan, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam and head of the Episcopal Commission for the Laity respectively, made some proposals for Catholics’ faith life to prepare for the post-pandemic period.
The letter said that when family members gather around altars and watch online Masses, they clearly feel their families are temples of God and God is present among them. “When the pandemic ends, you should continue family prayers,” it said.
It said feeling God’s presence in their families will help them love, give tender care to, forgive and accept one another.
“In doing so, your families will become a church at home and bear witness to the beauty of Catholicism among your neighbors,” the bishops said.
Noting Catholics had suspended all activities at parishes during the pandemic, they asked them to foster communal activities by attending public services and church activities.
“It is best that associations and church-based communities share God’s word, support one another and proclaim the good news,” the bishops said, adding that lay Catholics should commit themselves to the common good, become the light in their living environment and build the Kingdom of God in this world.
The bishops said priests and religious have felt inner life that is the source of the apostolate during the pandemic. They should be highly enthusiastic about their ministries and journey with and faithfully serve people of God as Jesus Christ, the good shepherd.
Noting the pandemic will end soon in Vietnam, the bishops asked people to bravely live out the spirit of good news in every situation, pray for the nation and world to be in peace and work with all people regardless of their backgrounds to stem the pandemic.
“With charity, we should be good Samaritans to look after our brothers and sisters and warm their souls so that they may have life and have it to the full,” they said.
Vietnam’s 27 dioceses restarted daily Masses with restricted attendances last week. Other services remain suspended.
On May 6, the Health Ministry reported no new community transmissions of Covid-19 in the past 20 days. The Southeast Asian country has reported 271 confirmed cases but no deaths.