Santiago (Agenzia Fides) - In its Lenten message, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Chile underlines the imposition of the ashes with which this liturgical season begins, inviting people to participate personally or at a distance, according to the provisions relating to the pandemic, "to live this profound sign of humility without threatening our health or that of others". This time of conversion invites us to renew our faith and our hope. It is also a time of purification and penance for the pain caused by our sins. "The Pastors of the Church once again ask forgiveness from God and from our brothers and sisters who have been abused, mistreated, excluded or ignored by some of their ministers".
"The last year was difficult for everyone - the Bishops write -. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted our fragility. We must mourn the serious damage to the health of many people, including many who have lost their lives. We have also suffered its serious social consequences which become more dramatic among the most vulnerable". They invite however to give thanks to God "for the countless expressions of fraternal solidarity, charity and closeness, as well as for the professional commitment of those who work at the service of the sick in hospitals and health centers. We also thank priests, deacons, men and women religious and lay people who have sought to accompany this moment of uncertainty with the Sacraments, prayer and comfort".
The Bishops also complain about the acts of violence which continue to occur in Chilean society, accompanied by the loss of human life, attacks on people, houses, public places and even places of worship of different religious denominations. Immigration is increasing significantly in the north of the country, immigration made up of people from nations characterized by significant social and political crisis. Certain climatic events, of an unusual intensity, caused serious damage to families who lost their homes, agricultural and economic activities, bringing with them uncertainty and insecurity.
"In this set of situations, many people wonder what the Lord is saying to us? What can we do to live our status as Christians at this time?". The Bishops respond: "Meditating with a sincere heart on the Word of God, permanent source of salvation and light, for daily discernment, is of particular importance in this liturgical season of Lent". They therefore remember personal and community prayer, which is always a sure means of discovering the will of God. "Let us never stop praying incessantly for the gift of life and health, justice and peace", they add, quoting the 2021 Lenten Message by Pope Francis: "The path of poverty and self-denial (fasting), concern and loving care for the poor (almsgiving), and childlike dialogue with the Father (prayer) make it possible for us to live lives of sincere faith, living hope and effective charity".
This complex time we are experiencing has brought different types of deprivation to many people, waste has no place in a society that seeks to overcome its inequalities, and "Lent gives us the opportunity to return to the essentials of our life as believers, by putting Christ at the center". Consequently, they exhort: "We must renew ourselves in attitudes of hope! The possibility of accessing one of the vaccines against Covid-19 opens up a window of hope for us to start the process of overcoming this serious pandemic". Everyone is invited to get vaccinated, because "there are no reasonable grounds to suspect that vaccines are harmful or that their use may be subject to moral prohibitions".
Finally, the Bishops of Chile recall that the beginning of a year of important decisions for the life of the country, "during which each compatriot must be a protagonist", calling for active participation and to keep informed on what concerns the elections, the projects and programs of applicants. "As Lent constitutes a way to grow and bear witness to a new time - they conclude - let us help each other with our personal, family and civil attitudes so that the younger generations continue to believe in Chile and in the human and Christian values that have inspired throughout history our society". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 17/2/2021)