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.”