By Sarah Mac Donald - 31 March, 2020
Pope Francis has prayed for those who are finding it difficult to cope amid the COVID-19 pandemic and are living in fear.
In Casa Santa Marta on Monday morning, the Pontiff offered his daily Mass for the “many people who cannot cope, who remain frightened by this pandemic. May the Lord help them to stand up, to react for the good of all society and the entire community.”
The Mass was livestreamed and showed the Pope in good health.
It followed confirmation from the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, that six employees of the Holy See and citizens of Vatican State have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
In a statement Mr Bruni confirmed that the Holy Father and his closest collaborators tested negative.
Closer to home, on Sunday, Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick warned people that they must accept that day by day “we will be plunged deeper into this crisis”.
In a statement after weekly Mass at St John’s Cathedral in Limerick, Bishop Leahy said that the measures introduced on Friday night by the Government showed that we have to go to another level to protect the vulnerable and to do all we can to ensure healthcare services, not least Intensive Care Units, can cope with what is ahead.
Everyone, he said, must buy into this.
“If we look to Italy and the horrific scenes there and scenes also coming out of Spain, it’s easy to visualise just how bad the outcome will be if we don’t dig deep now. The words of one priest last night interviewed on CNN hit deep and hard. He said ‘the sick were all alone as they lay dying. They were people who died without anyone to hear or see them, without the possibility to talk to their loved ones, no one to comfort them’.”
“Ireland doesn’t want to be that country and that’s why I believe the public is going to step up to the mark. What we must do is simple; stay at home except for absolutely essentials, wash hands when you have to go out and do it on return and keep your physical distance when those essential trips out have to be made. There is guidance on all this from the HSE website so please go there.”
Bishop Leahy said that these measures are about protecting those most vulnerable to the virus.
He also paid tribute to the Limerick COVID-19 Community Response which is tapping into the volunteer network on the ground in Limerick to ensure that the daily needs of the elderly, unwell or those either having had a confirmed diagnosis or who are isolating on suspicion of having COVID-19 are met.
Led by Limerick City and County Council, it embraces organisations including the HSE, An Garda Síochána, the GAA, Munster Rugby, IRFU, FAI, Liveable Limerick, Limerick Volunteer Centre, the Church of Ireland and the Catholic Church.
Those in need of assistance such as daily provisions, prescriptions, information are asked to call a helpline – 1800 832 005 – while people who want to volunteer are asked to email [email protected]
Bishop Leahy also paid special tribute to healthcare workers across the system and spoke of those working in nursing homes and their residents/patients.
“With so many elderly and sick residents living in these homes, we have to pray that they be spared the worst effects of the virus. Let’s pray that the wonderful efforts of their health carers protect as many of them as possible and that those same healthcare staff know that we think of them and keep them in our prayers, our thoughts and daily applause. We pray too that they are safe.”