“One shouldn’t think that coronavirus is a punishment from God, it would be blasphemy”, a cardinal has warned.

– Cardinal López of Rabat, Morocco: “Let us not hold God responsible”

“Let us not hold God responsible for what is our responsibility, our way of life, our way of acting”, Cardinal Archbishop of Rabat in Morocco, Cristóbal López Romero, wrote in a letter to the faithful on the subject of the pandemic.

“Let us return to God in prayer to ask him to free us from this scourge, but assuming our responsibilities… The pandemic makes us stop, forces us to stay home, gives us time for ourselves and our family.

“But the important thing is not to live all this outside of faith”, the cardinal wrote.

– “We must act in strict compliance with the rules out of love for others”

After the Moroccan Interior Ministry took the step of banning events with more than fifty people, Cardinal López appealed to the Catholics of the Rabat archdiocese to follow the government’s instructions “not out of fear, but out of love”.

“We must act in strict compliance with the rules… out of fear of infecting others, that is, out of love for others”, López insisted, adding: “We must think of the good of all… The cancellation of [Church] meetings… the Sunday Mass… must be seen as an act of solidarity for all humanity and as a gesture of love towards our neighbour, our neighbours, our fellow human beings”.

“We must learn to read this event” of the coronavirus pandemic “in the light of the Word of God”, the cardinal continued, “knowing that God is able to also bring good out of our sins and the evil that we commit”.

López added that COVID-19 can serve to remind all humanity that “we are mortal, that we are weak, that man is not omnipotent, that technology and science cannot solve everything”.

“The virus does not respect borders and does not distinguish between one country and another”, the cardinal observed: a fact that makes it a lesson in humility for everyone it touches, one way or another.

“There is no place for selfishness and individualism: we’re all in the same boat”, López implored, insisting that the outbreak today is “an opportunity to live and be in solidarity, an opportunity to feel like citizens of the world and members of the one family that is humanity”.

– Bishops in Spain, Andorra appeal to “responsibility” of Catholics

In the meantime, in Cardinal López’s native Spain, bishops are calling for a similar sense of responsibility on the part of Catholics to look out for their neighbour during the pandemic.

“We have to be responsible”, warned Cardinal Juan José Omella, the Archbishop of Barcelona, with respect to the banning of public Masses in the majority of dioceses around the country.

“This is not a fight against faith, nor a persecution of the Church: it is the persecution of a virus that can lead people to die”, Omella cautioned.

“Together we will overcome the fear and the pandemic”, added for his part the Archbishop of Urgell and co-prince of Andorra, Joan-Enric Vives.

“Let us heed the recommendations that are being prudently given to us” by the authorities, Vives urged, adding that “we must unite as a country around those who are leading the response to this unexpected crisis” and revealing that “every day I pray from my chapel for the whole Principality of Andorra and for the entire Diocese of Urgell, as well as for all the affected and sick around the world”.

– COVID-19 risk: Spanish Church refugee advocate group calls for immediate liberation of migrant detainees

For its part, the Jesuit Service for Migrants (SJM) in Spain has pleaded with the Interior Ministry to close the country’s migrant detention centres in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, and to free detainees.

“The state of the facilities, the overcrowding of the centre, common spaces of reduced dimensions and cells shared by up to eight people make it impossible to comply with the measures established by the government itself to preserve health and prevent contagion” during the virus pandemic, the SJM denounced.

Keeping in mind, too, that it is presently impossible to expel migration detainees to other countries – given the COVID-19 travel bans – the SJM warned that “peersons deprived of liberty are considered groups at high risk” of contracting the virus.

“Consequently, it is necessary to take urgent measures that respect the rights and guarantee the safety and health of inmates, as well as of personnel” who work in the detention centres, the SJM urged.

More on Novena on the pandemic:

Coronavirus: cardinal warns against unthinking “belief in miracles”

“Horror clown”, “cynical” Swiss bishop muzzled for “irresponsible and dangerous” coronavirus “superstition”

Amid virus crisis, International Catholic Migration Commission pledges continuing closeness to refugees, victims of trafficking

“Heretical” Polish archbishop downplays risk of COVID-19: “Christ does not spread germs and viruses”

Ultraconservative Swiss bishop gets served after claiming coronavirus “God’s punishment”

French bishop rips reckless providentialist Catholics “tempting God” in coronavirus pandemic

Italian cardinal dismisses conspiracy theory that coronavirus is “divine punishment”


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.