Asuncion (Agenzia Fides) - "In the Year of the Word of God which celebrates our Church in Paraguay, God has sought ways to make the Good News more alive and present. The churches have been empty, but the pulpits have been filled with the Word of eternal life. We hope that, respecting the necessary hygiene and biosecurity measures, we will soon be able to meet again to share the bread and the sacraments of the Church. Let us keep our faith alive, let our hearts remain firm, as St. John Paul II told us". This is the exhortation that the Bishops of Paraguay addressed to the community of faithful on May 19. "The centenary of the birth of Saint John Paul II, who visited us 32 years ago as Pope, is the occasion for this pastoral message - they explain -. Let us recall his convinced and firm faith in his ministry and in his magisterium… Pope John Paul II visited us to confirm us in faith, hope and charity, encouraging us not to give up the dream and commitment to a reconciled and fraternal Paraguay".
In their message, sent to Fides, the Bishops recall that "months have passed since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out and we know that the end will not be soon". In the face of fatigue, fear, anguish over daily bread, the feeling of insecurity and vulnerability, questions for the future, they invite us: "to increase our prayers, so that scientific and international solutions can be offered from international and national, technical, economic and administrative solidarity to support life, protect coexistence and open new and better ways for humanity". The Bishops of Paraguay are "in solidarity with this adversity", and recall the words of Saint John Paul II on the enhancement of local culture in order to overcome trials.
The message is divided into five points, recalling the words of Pope John Paul II. The first, "Let us live hope, not fear", recalls that "as Christians we must be cautious, listen to the advice of doctors and protect ourselves. But even more, we must renew our commitment to Christ in every sick person, with the neighbor who is alone, in vulnerable conditions, away from his home and family ... To strengthen hope we must rely more on faith and love, that humanizes us and pushes us to do good". In the second point, entitled "We draw strength from weakness, to offer hospitality to the most vulnerable", they write: "Our Christian strength is manifested in the ability to take care of the foreigner, the abandoned, the visitor, the needy, sharing what we have , even if it is little".
Therefore, in the third point, they urge to support "the courage of solidarity". Many have lost their jobs and are unable to support their families, domestic violence and criminal acts are increasing, for this reason. "We must decide between selfishness or generosity, choose to build a more Christian and more human world, taking care of the integrity of people, of the life of families, joining everyone's solidarity efforts for bread, housing, work, health and education".
The fourth point calls for high-moral leadership, "committed to life and a new Paraguay". "Our mission as pastors and all Christians - they write - is to build a healthier society in moral life and full of peace in coexistence. Public morality is the premise that makes possible the greatest ideals of justice, peace, freedom and participation", therefore they emphasize that "the moment we are living must be understood as the call of God for those who occupy a position of command and for all citizens. It is time to make the right decisions, to make the necessary changes and to propose the appropriate plans for the integral development of our country for the benefit of all".
Finally the Bishops invite to turn to the Virgin of Caacupé: "She does not abandon us in our poverty, in our illness, in situations of social forgetfulness, and asks us not to be discouraged, to have faith in her Son Jesus, to listen to his Word and to continue together, as his disciples". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 20/5/2020)