Bucharest (Agenzia Fides) - According to the government's provisions to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, even in Romania the Bishops’ Conference, albeit with great suffering, suspended Masses with the participation of the faithful and pastoral activities. Therefore there was a need to increase Christian education and information through social media and mass media. "This was welcomed at the beginning, but after some time Christians were no longer satisfied with looking at a screen to have a religious experience", explains Fr. Eugene Blaj, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Romania to Agenzia Fides.
"In all parishes the pre-sacramental catechesis had to be interrupted - he continues -. Some parishes had the means to continue holding online meetings for formation and celebration, others did not. From a certain point of view, the Church was more active, because it had to invent other ways to keep the unity of communities alive. Some succeeded, others not so much. Being isolated, other values emerged, such as solidarity with people in need, more time for prayer, sharing among those who live under one roof, etc. Priests responded to Christian emergencies. The Bishops persistently called upon the priests, like the Holy Father continually did, to be available in offering the sacraments to the people. The PMS office continued its pastoral work, in particular with missionary children, through the Zoom platform for prayer, the celebration of mass and the organization of activities".
How does the PMS Special Emergency Fund work for Coronavirus victims in your country? What kind of initiatives have begun with that Fund?
As soon as I received the message from our President of the PMS, Archbishop Dal Toso, I informed the diocesan Directors and shared it on the facebook page of our national office. The diocesan and Vatican media also disseminated the Holy Father's initiative in our language, but unfortunately I have to say that there was no feedback. The Bishops, through diocesan Caritas, worked to contribute to the fight against the Coronavirus: to support hospitals with equipment, to find food for the poor, to provide rooms for people in isolation or in quarantine. However, the Church tried to collaborate with the state and private organizations, according to its possibilities. I must underline that we had the help of the Holy Father, through five ventilators for the hospital of the city of Suceava, diocese of Iasi.
Have there been any particular experiences that have highlighted the link between charity and evangelization?
The example of the diocese of Timisoara, which supported the Gerhardinum High School with 13 laptops, is commendable. In many other places, needy students have had smart phones or tablets to follow tele-school. Many poor families could not afford to buy such tools for their children and consequently could not have taken online lessons. This charity helped them to continue their education thus avoiding repeating the school year. I would also like to mention the volunteers of our Caritas, in each diocese, who have offered home services to the elderly, sick and defenseless people. They were able to move around the city with a special permit and so they bought food, medicines and other basic products for the needy. (Agenzia Fides, 5/6/2020)