sexta-feira, 6 de março de 2020

FINALLY THE VOICE OF A BISHOP TO COMFORT US. Press release from Bishop Pascal Roland, Bishop of Ars-Belley


Image result for Mgr Pascal Roland, évêque d'Ars-Belley

Press release from Bishop Pascal Roland, Bishop of Ars-Belley:

More than the coronavirus epidemic, we must fear the epidemic of fear. For my part, I refuse to give in to collective panic and submit to the precautionary principle that seems to motivate civil institutions.  So I do not intend to give specific instructions for my diocese: will Christians stop meeting to pray? Will they give up negotiating and helping their brothers and sisters? Apart from the elementary precautions that everyone takes spontaneously so as not to contaminate others when they are sick, it is not appropriate to add anything else.

We should remember that in much more serious situations, those of the great plagues, and when the means of health care were not those of today, the Christian populations were illustrated with collective prayers, as well as with help for the sick, assistance for the dying and burying the dead. In short, the disciples of Christ did not turn away from God or hide from their fellow men, but rather the opposite.

Does not the collective panic we are witnessing today reveal our distorted relationship with the reality of death? Does it not manifest the anxiety that causes the loss of God? We want to hide the fact that we are mortal and, being closed to the spiritual dimension of our being, we lose ground. Having increasingly sophisticated and efficient techniques, we want to dominate everything and hide that we are not the lords of life.

By the way, let us keep in mind that the coincidence of this epidemic with the debates on the laws of bioethics reminds us of our human frailty. This global crisis has at least the advantage of reminding us that we live in a common home, that we are all vulnerable and interdependent and that cooperation is more urgent than closing our borders.  Moreover, we all seem to have lost our heads.

In any case, we are living in lies. Why are we suddenly focusing our attention only on the coronavirus? Why hide the fact that every year in France the trivial seasonal flu affects between 2 and 6 million people and causes around 8,000 deaths? It also seems that we have eliminated from our collective memory the fact that alcohol is responsible for 41,000 deaths a year and that an estimated 73,000 are caused by tobacco.

Far from me, therefore, the idea of prescribing the closure of churches, the suppression of masses, the abandonment of the gesture of peace during the Eucharist, the imposition of this or that mode of communion considered more hygienic (having said that, everyone can do it anyway), because a church is not a place of risk, but a place of salvation. It is a space where we welcome the One who is Life, Jesus Christ, and where, through Him, with Him and in Him, we learn to live together. A church must remain what it is: a place of hope.

Should we chew our houses? Should we raid the neighborhood supermarket and accumulate reserves to prepare for a siege? No! Because a Christian does not fear death! He knows he's mortal, but he knows in whom he's entrusted. He believes in Jesus, who affirms it: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, even if he dies, will live; and all those who live and believe in me will not die forever". (John 11:25-26) He knows that he is inhabited and encouraged by the "Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead" (Romans 8:11).

Moreover, a Christian does not belong to himself, his life must be offered, because he follows Jesus, who teaches: "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for me and the Gospel will save it" (Mark 8:35). Certainly, he is not unduly exposed, but neither does he seek to preserve himself. By following his crucified Master and Lord, the Christian learns to give himself generously to the service of his more fragile brothers and sisters, with a view to eternal life.