Message from the Bishops of the Catholic Church in Korea
to the Korean People and Faithful
Concerning Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Dear respectable people of Korea,
The unexpected outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing not only fear and anxiety, but also social isolation. It affects not only our physical and mental health, but also society and the economy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic many businesses and people, especially the self-employed, are suffering severe monetary difficulties. Thus we feel obliged to deliver a message of comfort and encouragement to the people who work tirelessly to enable us to get through these troubled times. We are truly grateful to healthcare workers, volunteers, the government and those involved in overcoming this crisis. All involved are committed to managing this challenging situation efficiently and in a transparent and organized manner.
Recently, a particular group of people has been targeted and blamed, by some, for the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is crucial for us to work together in one accord in order to halt the spread of coronavirus. Throughout history we have faced many crises, but we overcame them through collective wisdom and intelligence. Most importantly, we can combat this current crisis by taking simple but virtuous actions for the sake of others, and by showing solidarity and love, which gives strength to those around us.
The way we have actively engaged and cooperated with each other has become a good model for other nations that are struggling to cope with the pandemic. In fact, many countries are praising our response to the crisis. We, Korean people, refrained from panic shopping, got involved in voluntary works and followed faithfully the emergency measures proposed by the government. To the world, we have demonstrated how prioritizing those in need is the best way to save an entire community. We believe that together we will overcome this crisis.
Dear Korean faithful in Christ,
We are living the Season of Lent as if we are pilgrims wandering through the desert. The Catholic Church in Korea has temporarily suspended public Masses because of this COVID-19 pandemic. And, as a result, it is regrettable that the majority of the faithful cannot receive Holy Communion. However, we would like to extend our gratitude and consolation to the believers who, in the midst of this scourge, persevere in faith by reading the words of God, attending online Masses, and practicing charity.
Such a period of disaster and trial can also serve as a time for reflection and maturity. God allows us to experience trials, but at the same time, He gives us the power to bear them: “No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out” (1Cor 10,13).
This Lenten season allows us to contemplate the cross of Jesus. In this way, let us all commit ourselves to joyfully enduring our present afflictions and encourage one another to stay firm in hope without losing faith. Let us pray with all our heart and soul: May God grant His healing grace to all the sick and their families. May the Lord fill all of us, Korean people and all the peoples of the world, with the strength to overcome this crisis.
Let us ask God for grace so as to realize the providence of His love and mercy that brings good out of evil. Let us also implore God for the wisdom to seek a way out of this crisis. Let all the faithful prepare for the Paschal Feast. The Only Son of God, who has conquered the darkness of sin and death and opened the door to eternal life for us, will come again and invite us to His banquet.
“‘Do not be afraid!’ ... He has been raised just as he said” (Mt 28,5-6).
March 19, 2020
Solemnity of Saint Joseph
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea