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Fellow Christians:

MESSAGE TO THE DIOCESE OF DUMAGUETE REGARDING THE  NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

MY DEAR PEOPLE OF GOD: In view of the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) Pandemic which has gripped the world and, in particular, our beloved City of Dumaguete, I would like to entreat us all to place ourselves in the hands of the Lord.

We are in the realm of matter, which means that our bodies are subject to sickness, to corruption, and to death.  For that reason, there is so much concern and anxiety surrounding this creeping outbreak of the coronavirus.

But, we are not only body.  We are also spirit – embodied spirit, that is!

Even as we try to take the best precautionary measures to avoid this disease, we need to place our trust in the Lord, the author of Life, that He will deliver us from this life-threatening virus.

At  Holy Masses, therefore, starting February 2, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord,  I have asked our Priests to lead the Faithful in reciting the Oratio Imperata (Prayer for Deliverance from the Novel Coronavirus) immediately after Post-Communion Prayer.  This is in consonance with the instruction of the CBCP (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines).

Moreover, for practical purposes, I am also asking the Faithful of the Diocese of Dumaguete to do several things:   1) to discourage the holding of hands during the “Our Father”, the handshake, and “beso beso” during the Kiss of Peace in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist; 2) to receive Holy Communion by the hand and Not through the mouth; and, 3) to discourage the kissing of the hands of the Priests and the ring of the Bishop during this health crisis.

Furthermore, I have instructed our Priests to keep our Churches and Chapels clean, among others, to regularly change the Holy Water in Holy Water posts,  to install protective cloth on the grills of their confessionals, and to regularly disinfect miscrophones.

I pray, then, that as we observe the necessary precautions suggested to us by the relevant health organizations, let us refrain from spreading fake or false news regarding the novel coronavirus that may cause panic in our respective communities. Let us not panic! It does not help us. But let us be vigilant.

Let us also become more compassionate.  To the manufacturers and sellers of needed face masks, Vitamin C, alcohol, and other disinfectants, please make and sell them reasonably priced, and please, do not hoard them.  The times call for businessmen to conduct business  with conscience.  Patients as well as loved-ones of patients, please be more understanding of the medical professionals assisting you as they may be overstressed from work in trying to respond to the needs of all; medical professionals, please be understanding as well of patients and their loved ones who fear what may happen to them.

The Novel Coronavirus is a test of our humanity. Indeed, as countries impose lockdowns and airlines cancel flights, as Christians, our hearts and our hands should always remain open to help others. Hence, let us pray for China and its citizens that, in due time, through global cooperation, an effective vaccine may be made to kill the virus. Let us pray for those who are infected and for their families who are in anguish  over their sick loved ones. Let us pray for one another that the Lord may always keep us safe.

Again, let us heed the suggested precautionary measures of relevant health organizations and, in the end, entrust our lives and health to the Lord JESUS  who is the Source of Life.

This is your brother in faith,
Bishop Julito Cortes,
Bishop of the Diocese of Dumaguete.
2 Feb 2020