Catholic Church members fast for virus cure

The leader of the Catholic Church in Samoa has announced that his congregation members are doing nine days of fasting as part of their effort against the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Archbishop Alapati Lui Mataeliga said they have heard of the deadly impact of the virus and the absence of a cure, which is why church faithful have decided to fast.

"We have heard on the news how badly the coronavirus is and how there is no cure for the virus itself. The Catholic Church is doing a nine-day fasting as a way of seeking help from our God," he said. 

"I believe that everyone knows about this virus and all the other churches are probably praying for the same cause. As we all know Samoa is founded on God, and we shall seek God's protection during these times of difficulty.”

Archbishop Mataeliga said the Catholic Church has a tradition from the time of Jesus Christ’s 12 disciples called “novena”, where Jesus asked his disciples not to go out and spread the gospel, but to pray and await the holy spirit.

“Then they went upstairs in a room and prayed for nine days and on the tenth day the holy spirit descended on them," he added.

Using that excerpt from the Bible, Archbishop Mataeliga said the objective of the nine days of fasting is to pray for the COVID-19 to be defeated, and due to the absence of a vaccine against the virus, he added that it makes sense seeking the help of the “doctor of all doctors” in Jesus Christ. 

"I am grateful that it has not reached our shores yet but we can never be sure knowing how it is rapidly spreading around other countries. It is time to seek healing from our God, to let his holy spirit help our doctors and scientists to find a cure and a solution to this pandemic disease," he added.

All Catholic churches in Samoa have been asked to pray the novena and the rosary for the nine days of fasting, and will end the ritual with a church service on Monday, March 23. 

With Governments around the world cancelling the mass gathering of people including sporting events and conferences, the Catholic hierarchy in Samoa is yet to indicate if the 5th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy scheduled for August this year in Samoa will be cancelled.

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