Bangkok (Agenzia Fides) - Catholic communities scattered throughout Asia are called to "live with hope in times of pandemic": this is what is stated in a message released by the Federation of the Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) which welcomes 19 Churches as effective members and other 8 associated Churches. In the message, sent to Agenzia Fides, it is noted that "Covid-19 challenges everyone's way of living, working and celebrating. It affects everyone because public health systems are at stake. Many people lose their jobs, become unemployed and hunger increases. In these realities, everyone is called to live resilience despite hard times". "We encourage everyone to live this time fruitfully, generously and with hope. Let's look at each other", reads the Message, signed, on behalf of all the members of the Federation, by the President of the FABC, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo , Archbishop of Yangon.
"Most of the Asian countries are now subject to restrictions. Schools are closed, factories are closed, markets are running out of supplies, travel is prohibited. Yet, with incredible madness, conflicts continue. Military commanders, as if they believed that their weapons are more powerful than this virus, continue to deploy their soldiers, continuously endanger civilians and risk an explosion of contagion among the people of their nations", reads the text.
"Asia has experienced many endless conflicts, wars and crises: tsunami, cyclone Nargis and frequent and devastating typhoons. We know that every crisis has changed us. This time every country in the world is affected. It will leave our world profoundly changed. Politics will change. International relations will be different", the message continues.
The Asian Bishops note that in the current crisis, people show an attachment to their communities and persist in connecting in relationship, empathy and solidarity, observing "collective responsibility to face shared challenges", especially for the benefit of the poor and most vulnerable.
The Bishops, addressing the governments, stress: "The construction of a nation begins with listening to and accompanying people on the margins of society. The poor will suffer disproportionately in this crisis, slum dwellers, day laborers, migrant workers. People on the fringes of society have long been neglected. Now we have to face an epochal change characterized by fear, xenophobia and racism". An effort of solidarity and the construction of inclusive societies and economies is therefore necessary, "which must have a place for everyone, which must put people first, and founded on the common good".
"This is a time of patience, energy and intelligence. Patience is learned by practicing it. This is the time to organize our lives and energies wisely; it is a time to expand our imagination and intelligence; to learn new ways and to prepare for a new world. It is time to realize how we depend on each other and to learn to work collectively and cooperatively, sharing responsibilities and appreciating solidarity. Above all, this is the time to put aside hatred and weapons and face the common enemy that is attacking the whole of humanity", reads the text.
The pandemic, says the FABC, "offers us time to encourage each other, a time for solidarity with vulnerable people, a time to pray to understand what is happening in our world. Let us use this time creatively, by being generous to each other". "Across Asia, many people are now hurt, physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually. With its response to the pandemic, the Catholic Church joins the charity movement. This is the time to bring God's goodness, mercy and love to our world", it says.
The message ends with an exhortation to the baptized on the continent. "Be proactive. Take advantage of this time to find and live relationships for the future. Imagine, pray and prepare for a changing world. Covid-19 is a door, a moment of break between the old and the new, from a world where few are the privileged, to a world where the dignity of every human must be recognized". (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/9/2020)