03/14/2020, 08.00
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Vicar of Arabia: In Lent, fasting and prayer for people affected by coronavirus

Archbishop Hinder close to front line workers fighting the disease and invites the faithful to help people in these difficult times. The virus affects not only health, but also societies and economies. But the nation has "excellent" structures and there is "constant vigilance". Covid-19 also frightens ISIS jihadists.

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) - Worldwide many dioceses are "observing days of prayer and fasting" for the end of the new coronavirus epidemic and, for this reason, "I urge you to pray, fast and carry out goodwill gestures for those affected by the pandemic," urges Msgr. Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia (United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen).

In n a new pastoral letter sent to AsiaNews, he adds that Wednesdays of Lent "will have this intention" to pray "for the wisdom" of those who "fight disease, healing for those affected and protection and safety for all".

The prelate invites the faithful to help those in difficulty, socially and economically, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has been spreading sensitively in the Middle East in recent days. The hope, he continues, is to "resume regular celebrations and activities" because "we are all, in one way or another" all over the world "involved" by the coronavirus.

Simple and everyday gestures such as going to mass or praying in community "are questioned" and the functions are "drastically reduced or suspended". The disease not only affects public health, but also implies a "heavy toll" on societies and economies affecting "our lives".

Archbishop Hinder recalls the good fortune of living in a nation "with excellent medical facilities" at the service of the sick, with "constant vigilance" by the authorities in all sectors, a factor that "has favored a limited spread of the epidemic". However, he continues, it is necessary to "maintain a high level of caution" and take "all precautions" to counteract the circulation of the virus.

Citizens have the task of taking all measures of "prudence and precaution", while not forgetting "the dimension of faith" in this moment of "crisis", when "human frailty" emerges and "asks us to be prepared on a spiritual level ". Bishop Hinder shares the pain of those who cannot attend the services because they are suspended or sick, but adds that "they will resume as soon as possible". Meanwhile, for Lent, Holy Week and Easter, the masses "will be available on electronic media" and takes the opportunity to invite the faithful to follow those celebrated by Pope Francis.

Finally, Msgr. Hinder outlines some indications - old and new - to better face the coronavirus epidemic: stay at home and not come to church if you have been in contact with people who have tested positive for Covid-19 or if subjected to quarantine; if you are returning from countries considered at risk; for the elderly and the sick, subjects considered particularly at risk.

Meanwhile, the emergency knows no borders and the jihadist group of the Islamic State (IS, ex Isis) is also starting to worry, which have outlined guidelines for their own militiamen in Syria and Iraq. Through the al-Naba information channel, linked to fundamentalists, and with graphics that reflect the indications traced in many Western countries, the leaders list styles of behavior outlined by God and the prophet Muhammad. Among these, people are invited to respect the distance, not to enter or leave the land of infection, to cover their mouth and wash their hands.

As regards the infections, Saudi Arabia registered 24 new cases yesterday, including 14 Egyptians, for a total of 86. Turkey three, for a total of five. Another 58 in Qatar, for a total number of infections equal to 320. In Syria there are still no official cases, but the Damascus authorities have ordered the closure of schools and a ban on smoking hookah in cafes. Finally Iran, which remains the most affected nation in the area with 11363 infections and 514 deaths.

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