In light of the corona virus disease (CoViD) 2019 which is now rocking the entire world not just in terms of the physical health of the population but also the global economy people cannot help but ask: Who can they turn to?
This is so because since the disease was first discovered and reported to have the potentials of becoming an epidemic late last year in Wuhan, China so far not a single pharmaceutical company has concocted a medicine for curing the infected, or a vaccine to prevent human infection.
It now appears that each country and government is left to its own to arrest the onset of the disease. In China for example where the epicenter of the infectious disease is located and the most number of deaths occurred, lockdowns are resorted to limiting movements of people and subsequently, goods. Italy has followed only this week. Also, several countries including the Philippines are restricting entries of people coming from areas where CoViD is known more prevalent.
The restriction on people movement has already seriously affected the global economy. Imagine the daily loss in production, the huge losses in sales of bulk and retail establishments, and the mountains of decaying perishable goods that could not be shipped or received on time because of the lack of workers from the source country and the long quarantine process in ports of destinations. Even the economy- dictating oil industry in the world is now put in turmoil. Thanks and no thanks to the CoViD 19 health emergency.
Again, the question, “Who can the people turn to for their protection from the virus?” Can they depend on their government and health authorities who are themselves scrambling to find both the preventive and curative medicine? As it is now, the best that governments are able to do is to advise the people to resort to deterrent measures even as health officials are applying medical interventions on the symptoms level only and not on the illness itself.
And coupled with the hyper-active mainstream and alternative media reporting everything about the virus infection all over the world in real time, often times in alarming presentation, governments and health authorities seemingly failed to notice that other than the CoViD 19 global health emergency a new and even more disturbing epidemic has evolved.
This is the epidemic of fear!
With these twin universal concerns we find it worthy to share these excerpts from the column of one Bishop Pascal Roland of Belley Ars, France published in his diocesan website. France is one of European countries with reported CoViD cases and even deaths.
“More than the epidemic of the corona virus, we should fear the epidemic of fear! For my part I refuse to yield to the collective panic and to subject myself to the principle of precaution that seems to be moving the civil institutions.”
“So I don’t intend to issue instructions for my diocese. Are Christians going to stop gathering together for prayer? Will they give up going, see and help their fellow man? Apart from measures of elementary prudence that everyone takes spontaneously to not contaminate others when you’re sick, it’s not advisable to add on more.”
In his column Bishop Roland pointed out:
“During the great plagues of the past Christians joined together in common prayer, ministered to the sick, attended the dying, and buried the dead. They did not turn away from God of their neighbor.”
“Doesn’t the collective panic we are witnessing today reveal our distorted relationship to the reality of death? Does it not manifest the anxiety-inducing effects of losing God?” he asked.
Bishop Roland further said in his column, “We want to hide from ourselves the fact that we are mortal, and having closed off the spiritual dimension of our life, we’re losing ground. Because we have more and more sophisticated and efficient techniques available, we claim to master everything and we obscure the fact that we’re not the masters of life!”
“Coronavirus is an occasion to ‘remind ourselves of our human fragility’,” adding that “this global crisis at least has the advantage of reminding ourselves that we live in a common home and that we’re all vulnerable and interdependent and that it’s more urgent to cooperate than to close our borders!”
Bishop Roland added in his column, “It seems we have lost our minds!
And in any case we’re living in a lie. Why suddenly focus our attention on just the coronavirus?” The Bishop further said, “In France the ordinary seasonal flu sickens 2-6 million people, and causes about 8,000 deaths.”
As to putting restrictions on Church activities and practices, the Bishop wrote in his column:
“The Church is not a place at risk, but a place of health. It’s a place where we welcome the one who is life, Jesus Christ, and we’re ‘through him, with him, and in him’ we together learn to be the living. A church has to remain what it is: a place of hope!”
Bishop Roland asked: “Should you shut yourself up at home? Should you raid the neighborhood supermarket to stock up on reserves to prepare for a siege? No! Because a Christian doesn’t fear death. He’s not unaware that he’s mortal, but he knows in whom he has placed his trust.”
“And a Christian doesn’t belong to himself, his life is given, because he follows Jesus Christ who teaches ‘For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it’.”
The French Bishop concluded his column by admonishing, “So let’s not give in to the epidemic of fear! Let’s not be the living dead! As Pope Francis would say: don’t let them steal your hope!”