(Source: MJ/Federico Piana, Vatican News; translation: Novena)
Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg and President of the Commission of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe, has a concern that comes from the heart in these days of COVID-19.
In this dramatic situation of pandemic, the European Church, “using all the means at its disposal, such as the internet, must show people that God is with them, because many people feel lonely [and] abandoned”.
Masses and other liturgical celebrations open to the faithful have been suspended in many countries of the European Union, while God’s people feel increasingly discouraged.
“I, too, have made the same decision [to cancel Masses] for my country because as Christians we must assume our responsibilities: we do it to save lives”, Hollerich told Vatican News March 14.
Q. What should be done in such a difficult situation?
A.- For my Church I have written a pastoral letter to explain to the faithful how to react: I asked the people to pray, and the priests to celebrate Holy Mass every day: even if there are no people, for the people.
We must show that we are there, for the people.
Italy is the European country most affected by the pandemic: I want to express my solidarity with the Italian Church.
I pray every day for all the sick, for those who feel lonely, for those who are afraid, for the young and the unemployed who fear for their future. We must make it understood that the Church is with them.
Specifically, what have been the repercussions of the pandemic for the European Church and for Europe itself?
There is uncertainty for all ecclesial programs. For example, we are in the middle of our diocese’s 150th anniversary celebrations, but we can’t celebrate them in public.
As far as Europe is concerned, I see that many nations are blocking borders and making decisions only for their peoples, without taking others into account.
I would like to appeal to the political world: if you can, show the deep solidarity that must exist in Europe.
Today we risk closing ourselves in when unfortunate events occur. But as Christians we must not do this: we must not close our hearts.
How can governments and the Church show this solidarity?
China is helping Italy and for that I want to thank that country. But I regret that the same help does not come from other European countries.
I believe that the most affected nations should always be helped. Europe is a community of solidarity, but this should not be affirmed only when everything is going well; when there is no need.
Solidarity must be shown especially in dramatic moments. It must now be demonstrated that there is a European identity, or better: a Christian European identity.
What does the suspension of masses and religious celebrations open to the faithful during Lent mean for the European Church?
I think it is the time to stop and reflect on the really important things in our lives. All this allows us to see that it is in the hands of God.
We must understand that we cannot build our own happines alone, because our existence is fragile. And what is happening could allow us to enter deeply into the mystery of Christ: his death on the Cross and his Resurrection.
I am not distressed, but rather, I am very calm, because God is present, God is with us.
To be closer to the people, the European Church has reinforced its presence on the Internet and is making great use of the same…
Indeed, we are fortunate to have many modern means of communication to demonstrate that we are united and that we are not just countries made up of lost and worried individuals.
The Church is a communion and, as Pope Francis said, Christ is alive among us.
The Internet and social networks also serve to convey our hope.