(Source: Novena/Vatican News)
The Bishops of Belgium have issued a letter ahead of the feast of All Saints and the commemoration of All Souls November 1 and 2, highlighting the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.
In their letter, the Belgian prelates highlight the dramatic rise in coronavirus cases in the country, with particular reference to Brussels, Wallonia and Flanders.
They also note that this dangerous situation is very worrying, especially as winter approaches.
The letter stresses that “only together can we defeat Covid-19.”
The bishops call on Christian communities and believers “to collaborate loyally with the responsible authorities and to strictly observe the promulgated rules. This civic sense is essential to show our solidarity.”
Speaking to Vatican News, the Auxiliary Bishop of Brussels, Jean Kockerols, said that with this letter the Belgian Bishops want to encourage people because “there is the temptation to want to fight this pandemic alone.” He underlined that this is a time when people “have to stay together and fight together and pray together.”
The bishops emphasise that “no one is safe from the virus.” They also invite people to offer neighbourhood assistance to those who are more vulnerable, such as the elderly and the disabled.
Stressing the importance of solidarity at this time, Bishop Kockerols said it is “very important to rediscover in this pandemic that we are exactly the same.” He noted, just as Pope Francis states in his new encyclical Fratelli tutti, that “we are all brothers and sisters”.
Pandemic and economy
The Belgian Bishops’ letter also acknowledges the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Many companies,” it says, “are deeply affected by the measures taken; large companies, but also small independent businesses. They cannot fulfill their role at the social level and suffer heavy financial losses… We ask our communities and all believers to support them to the best of their ability, to show solidarity and to preserve their future prospects.”
Saints and Souls
As All Saints’ Day and the Commemoration of the Dead approach, the Belgian bishops note that “the strengthening of [anti-pandemic] measures will unfortunately not allow for religious services with a large congregation on All Saints’ Day. But we will personally entrust our lives to God.”
Speaking about the upcoming feasts of All Saints and All Souls, Bishop Kockerols highlighted that a very important element of the Catholic faith is the communion of Saints.
“Actually this communion is a great thing in this pandemic, this communion, beyond our difficulties we are one, and the Lord is gathering us into this communion… it is very important to discover this communion in our hearts, in our prayers and in our minds.”
As the Belgian government considers stricter curbs to halt the spread of the virus, the Bishops call on all Christian communities and believers to act responsibly and to always choose the safest measures.
“This is the most difficult path in the short term but the safest in the long term,” the prelates appeal.