Israel’s outgoing prime minister, on trial, is seeking an emergency government. Gantz is open to the idea but wants it "broad" and representative. Bahrain accuses Iran of "biological aggression". In the Gulf States, the number of infections is rising, but at present no one has died yet. The emergency continues in Iran with more than 10,000 cases and 429 deaths.
“Idolatry leads people towards the wrong religiosity; indeed, many times worldliness, which is a [form of] idolatry, makes people turn the celebration of a sacrament into a worldly feast.” Like a wedding. “People don’t know if it is a sacrament – where newlyweds really give their all, love each other before God, promise to be faithful before God, and receive the grace of God – or a catwalk of models” centred on “how they are dressed, one and the other”.
The Congregation for Divine Worship issued a decree with "general indications" for Holy Week celebrations. Services will be held without people. “Means of live (not recorded) telematic broadcasts can be of help.”
According to data from the 2018 Statistical Yearbook, the number of permanent bishops and deacons is growing, but priests, seminarians and religious are decreasing. In Asia, Catholics go from 10.9 to 11.1 percent.
At first radical Muslims claimed that the epidemic was a sign of Allah's anger and punishment. Now they claim the virus is a test of faith. If “such characters, such obscurantists with dark ideas, intervene and interfere in such sensitive issues with impunity it is because the state does not do its duty, that of protecting people.”
The 25th anniversary of John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium vitae was at the center of Francis' catechesis for the general audience. "he life that we are called to promote and defend is not an abstract concept, but always manifests itself in a person in the flesh: a newly conceived child, a poor outcast, a sick person who is alone and discouraged or in a terminal state, one who has lost his job or cannot find one, a rejected or ghettoized migrant...".
The Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Conference of European Churches (KEK), the ecumenical association of Christian Churches of Europe participated in the initiative, proposed by Francis.
Francis mentions the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul who have been running a dispensary for needy families in the Vatican for 98 years.
The National Council of Churches in India and the Indian Evangelical Alliance have taken up the pontiff's invitation. Felix Machado: "People are terrified and anxious; the situation asks us to witness a profound faith". Rev. Vijayesh Lal, EFI secretary general: “We ask all communities to pray and take care of the elderly and unemployed people”.
Francis chooses theme "The Words of Vocation" for the Day of Prayer for Vocations. "On this day in particular, but also in the ordinary pastoral life of our communities, I ask the Church to continue to promote vocations. May she touch the hearts of the faithful and enable each of them to discover with gratitude God’s call in their lives".
24 doctors and about 50 priests have died in Italy serving the sick. Almost five thousand health workers infected. In his homily, Francis speaks of sloth, "the sin of the neutral, neither white nor black". "The sin of sadness that is the seed of the devil, of that inability to make a decision about one's life, but yes, to look at the life of others to complain".
The Great Mosque of Paris is shut. All French mosques are urged to close. The Muslim Brotherhood is against this. Deemed a "punishment" against unbelievers, the outbreak is now a "test" to purify Muslims. Solidarity is growing irrespective of race, religion and nationality. This is an opportunity to pray for all humanity. The chairman of the French Board of Imams speaks out.
The bishop, not recognized by the government, wishes to thank the Holy See for helping them in the moment of the coronavirus crisis. A novena also to ask God for an end to the epidemic in Europe. Caritas Hong Kong collects funds and masks for Italy. Former Chinese students in Italy collect donations for the Gemelli Polyclinic and other hospitals.
At Mass this morning, Francis invited people to pray for those who are suffering from the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic. “The Lord does not disappoint: he does not disappoint. He makes us wait, He takes His time, but He doesn't disappoint. Faith, perseverance and courage”.
During the Angelus, Pope Francis called on the Heads of the Churches and all Christians to recite together the Lord’s Prayer on March 25, the solemnity of the Annunciation. On 27 March, the pontiff will pray in the parvis of the St Peter’s Basilica, with the Eucharistic adoration and Urbi et Orbi blessing. The miracle of healing the man born blind “confirms the affirmation of Jesus who says of himself, ‘I am the light of the world’ (John 9:5), the light that illuminates our darkness.” However, “it is not enough to receive the light, it is necessary to become the light”.