Chinese Catholics pray for Italy, Holy See amid COVID-19 pandemic

By Shan Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/18 13:39:01

Bishop Zhan Silu (center) hosts the mass on Wednesday. Photo:Courtesy of Luo Wen

China's Catholic Mindong diocese on Wednesday morning held a mass to pray for Italy and the Holy See, which are stricken by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bishop Zhan Silu hosted the ceremony in the cathedral of Mindong diocese in Ningde, East China's Fujian Province. He called priests in the diocese to pray for Italy and the Holy See.

"We pray for the world fighting against the pandemic. We pray for the employees and clergymen in the Holy See. We pray for people in Italy," Bishop Zhan said during the mass, according to video clips sent to the Global Times.

"A drop of water in need, shall be returned with a spring in deed," the bishop said, adding that "When the virus first hit China earlier this year, as well as when the earthquake happened in Southwest China's Sichuan Province previously, Italy immediately sent support and supplies."

He told the Global Times the diocese is getting to know the needs and channels to donate to Italy. He said they would also like to send supplies in need to the Holy See if necessary.

The Wednesday mass did not admit believers despite the presence of clergymen. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, all kinds of gatherings, including religious activities in churches in Mindong, were suspended for public safety in the past months.

About 600,000 to 700,000 masks have been sent to China from the Vatican since January 27, through the support of the Vatican Pharmacy and Chinese Christian communities in Italy, Vincenzo Han Duo, vice rector of The Pontifical Urban College in the Vatican, told the Global Times.

Italy's total confirmed cases of COVID-19 have jumped to 31,506 by Tuesday, according to Angelo Borreli, chief of the Italian Civil Protection Department. The death toll in Italy reached 2,503. 

Vatican confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 6. The patient is a priest from France's Catholic Church in Rome, according to the Associated Press.

Bishop Zhan, who is approved by the state and also among the seven bishops acknowledged by Vatican in September 2018, became the diocesan bishop in Mindong in December 2018.

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