IN THE MIDST OF THE NEW CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC Some thoughts from the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan


IN THE MIDST OF THE NEW CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC Some thoughts from the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Confere […]

Some thoughts from the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan

As we witness the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus, I want to share some thoughts with Japan’s Catholics.

1. Prayer
The new coronavirus poses a global threat of infection and death that is incomparable to the 2002 SARS and the 2012 MERS epidemics.
Let us pray to the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ to give the necessary help and strength to all who need it: the infected, the deceased, health care workers, leaders, and people who have been hit hard economically.
I wish to present to you a “Prayer for the World Suffering from the New Coronavirus Pandemic” approved by the bishops.

O loving God,
Look kindly upon the world, now in great difficulty
Through the spread of the new coronavirus.

May necessary medical care be given to those who suffer from the disease.
Guide those who work toward ending the infection.
Protect all healthcare workers and all those who care for the sick.

Welcome the deceased into your eternal kingdom.
Fill them with everlasting peace.
May hands reach out to help everyone facing anxiety and confusion.

God, the source of hope,
Guide us in this crisis
That we may spare no sacrifice to prevent the spread of the infection,
That we may serve everyone in the world,

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Mary, source of hope and comfort,
Pray for us in this hardship.
(Approved by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, April 3, 2020)

2. Recognizing the greatness, yet fragility, of human life and renewing our trust in God
Humanity has used its God-given wisdom to advance science and technology, especially medicine. But now, people around the world are frightened by the threat of the virus and struggle to prevent infection and end the scourge as soon as possible. All of us are stressed as interactions and gatherings with others are restricted and work and daily life undergo devastating effects.
We humans are loved by God, created in the image of God, given a mission to govern all things on earth, and are watched over by God.1) But we are also like dust, wild grass, breath and shadow.2) That is why we keep in mind that apart from Christ we can do nothing, yet we will not fear anything and will trust in God and have hope for salvation.3)

3. Taking a new look at our spiritual life
In order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, our activities have been restricted and we have been forced to lead inconvenient lives. It is worth noting, though, that we are making new discoveries about our relationships with others and nature.
Looking at our religious life, the cancellation of Sunday Masses has made some of us once again consider the meaning of Sunday Mass and how grateful we are for it. “In fact, in the weekly reckoning of time Sunday recalls the day of Christ’s Resurrection. It is Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christ’s victory over sin and death, the fulfilment in him of the first creation and the dawn of ‘the new creation’ (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). It is the day which recalls in grateful adoration the world’s first day and looks forward in active hope to ‘the last day’, when Christ will come in glory (cf. Acts 1:11; 1 Th 4:13-17) and all things will be made new (cf. Rev 21:5).4) To take part in the Eucharistic celebration on the Lord’s Day, hear the Word of God, relive the events of Christ’s death and resurrection, and respond to the grace of Christ is a great joy for us as Christians. However, because an unspecified number of people usually participate in the Mass, we must seek and accept the will of God even though Mass may be canceled or restricted.
On the other hand, Christ whom we meet at the Eucharistic celebration reminds us that we are all united in him, and he is with us so that just like him we can approach others with love and mercy. Especially when we are in such a predicament as this, we must show a spirit of compassion. I must not think just about the safety of my own life but must be mindful of the lives of all others and take appropriate actions. We must be careful to not blame or discriminate against infected people, but rather, must be sensitive toward them and pray for their recovery.

4. Efforts we must make
The following are recommended as basic infection prevention measures, and it is very important to thoroughly implement them.

  1. Thoroughly wash hands with soap or use a disinfectant solution. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary and Glory be while doing so can make it a Catholic prayer activity.5)
  2. After touching a doorknob or handrail be careful to prevent infection by not touching your face.
  3. Be careful to avoid these three situations that in combination increase the danger of infection:
    • Being in a closed place with insufficient ventilation,
    • Not keeping enough distance from each other,
    • Speaking to others at short distances.
  4. Improve your immunity and resistance by eating a balanced diet and getting adequate sleep.

April 3, 2020
✠ Mitsuaki Takami, Archbishop of Nagasaki
President, Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan

(Revised April 12, 2020)