Madrid, Spain, May 12, 2020 / 02:01 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, sent a letter to all Catholic priests in Spain, offering encouragement amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In the May 10 letter, marking the feast of Saint John of Avila, the patron of Spanish clergy, Stella acknowledged the suffering of the Spanish people.
He said he has come to learn that more than 50 priests have lost their lives to the coronavirus, some due to pre-existing conditions and others “because despite taking available means of protection they were infected while taking spiritual care of the sick and serving other people in need.”
The letter highlighted “the sacrifice of these priests and so many other people that have risked and lost their lives to bring healthcare, food, consolation, hope…which reminds us that God has given us life to share it, to give it generously.”
The witness of these priests, Stella said, “quietly announces that God is not outdone in generosity: he calls us out of love, gives us a hundredfold on this earth—even though we suffer—and in the age to come, life everlasting.”
“The witness of these priests is a good antidote to the temptation to selfishly use the priestly ministry to gain material goods, prestige, private interests, privileges,” he said.
Stella praised the efforts by Spain’s priests to reach out with creativity and pastoral charity to bring God’s love to the people.
The cardinal also recognized the various initiatives launched to help people grow in faith and prayer. He encouraged priests and deacons to look to the future and find potential opportunities, as the COVID pandemic has brought with a heightened “awareness of the fragility of human beings, the falling away of so many false securities, questions about the meaning of life, the need for solidarity especially with those who are suffering, the witness of the dedication, faith and hope of so many sons and daughters of Church.”
He pointed to the example of Saint John of Avila, saying the patron of Spanish clergy invites people “to feel the troubles of others and cry over them, to importunely implore God, to have a mother’s heart for others and outstretched hands for the heartbroken and poor.”
Stella called on the clergy of the nation to pray especially to the Holy Spirit to guide Christian communities in a renewal of faith and to lead Pope Francis as he heads the Church in a time of pain and uncertainty.
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Saint John of Avila – Pray for us.
I am grateful for the many wonderful priests worldwide who are doing their best to help those in need, whether physically or spiritually. They need our prayers, perhaps now more than ever.