, 23 March, 2020 / 6:08 AM
The Bishop of Port Louis diocese in Mauritius, Maurice Cardinal Piat has, in a message addressed to the faithful, appealed for calm in order to avoid the spread of the disease.
“Resist panic, keep calm. Panic and fear do not come from God; when we panic, we can no longer think properly and we can make bad decisions.,” Cardinal Piat stated in his March 20 message.
According to the Prelate, “Remaining calm means concretely respecting the instructions given to us, taking all the necessary precautions and trusting God for the rest.”
Mauritius confirmed its first death from COVID-19 on Saturday, March 21 and announced that 13 individuals had tested positive.
“Mauritius has registered its first death linked to COVID-19. Actually some 13 patients have been tested of COVID-19 positive. Their state of health is stable and they are being treated in isolation,” Kavish Pultoo, adviser on information matters at the Mauritian Ministry of Health told Reuters.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are now more than 700 confirmed cases of coronavirus across Africa, with a number of African countries imposing a range of prevention and containment measures against the spread of the pandemic.
Referencing the Gospel of Mathew 8:23-27, where in the midst of a storm on Lake Galilee, while the apostles in their boat were panicking, Jesus came close to them and said, “Trust me, I am here, do not be afraid,” the 78-year-old Mauritius Cardinal affirmed, “What God inspires in us is rather calm and hope. Let us try to hear this call to calm that comes to us from Jesus in the heart of our "cyclone".”
The member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) encourages Mauritians to respect directives put in place by the government and the Church to prevent the spread of the disease.
“Our country has been affected by the Coronavirus epidemic and the population is in danger. In this situation, I encourage you to follow all the instructions that will be given to you in due course by the state authorities and by the diocese regarding religious ceremonies and other activities in the Church,” Cardinal Piat said.
“During this stage of mobilization against the epidemic, where the temptations of withdrawal and suspicion are great,” the Prelate said and continued, “we are also invited to open our hearts to others and to pray for them.”
Cardinal Piat also appealed for prayers for those affected and doctors helping to contain the disease saying, “Let us pray for the elderly and the sick who are most vulnerable; let us pray for the doctors and health personnel who will be put to the test; let us pray for those whose economic situation is already affected by the epidemic; let us pray for those who live in trying conditions of misery or loneliness.”
“Let us keep an open, outgoing heart that cares for all those who are in pain,” the Cardinal underlined his message.
The Mauritius Cardinal also hopes this prayer will “lead to solidarity in action, even if our opportunities for direct contact are likely to be increasingly limited. In this situation where we soon risk being isolated from one another, let us be inventive and look for ways to show our closeness to others even at a distance.”
To this end, he says “Modern means of communication can be put to good use in order to remain present with each other, supporting and encouraging each other. Any other form of mutual help that can be organized while respecting the instructions will be welcome.”
Cardinal Piat also called on Mauritians to trust in the Lord in the face of this pandemic saying, “Dear brothers and sisters, let us trust in the Lord who knows how to bring out much good from a crisis situation, if we listen to him. Let us place ourselves under the protection of the Virgin Mary who, like a mother, remains attentive to the needs of her children. She will know how to initiate us to trust as she did, to open ourselves to others as she did and to serve as she did.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa