Moon requests Catholic Church’s continued cooperation to contain COVID-19

SEOUL, President Moon Jae-in met with top leaders of the country’s Roman Catholic Church on Thursday and called for the church’s continued cooperation to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, the presidential office said.
The luncheon meeting marks the first invitation of Catholic leaders to the presidential house by Moon, a Roman Catholic himself, since he assumed power in 2017. It followed the president’s official meetings with Protestant and Buddhist leaders at Cheong Wa Dae in July last year.
During the latest meeting, Moon credited the local Catholic community with taking swift action in tandem with state quarantine efforts during the onset of the first wave of new coronavirus outbreaks here in late February.
As the country is struggling to avert a second wave, Moon asked the Catholic Church “to become a role model in curbing transmissions,” according to Cheong Wa Dae.
The meeting was also attended by Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, the archbishop of Seoul; Archbishop Kim Hee-joong; and other Catholic and presidential officials.
Moon said he is taking the current situation “very seriously.”
Should the ongoing quarantine efforts fail, the government would have no other choice but to elevate the level of social distancing, which will then have “unspeakable economic damage,” he said.
“I want you to take care of people’s hearts, beaten down by COVID-19 being prolonged, and impart the courage and leadership needed to unite people for safety (from the virus).”
In response, Cardinal Yeom vowed to muster the church’s collaboration, saying, “We will be with you and advise people to faithfully do their parts in their own places.”
Archbishop Kim, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, also gave Moon a religious painting featuring St. Mary, which the presidential office said carried the meaning of the church’s wish for virus containment.
During the onset of the first wave in late February, all 16 Catholic dioceses in the country suspended all their in-person Masses until they were resumed in April.
It was the first time local Masses came to a complete halt in the 236-year history of Catholicism on the Korean Peninsula.
The church is again on its way to suspend them in light of a recent surge in virus infections. The country’s new daily virus infections reached 288 Thursday, the seventh day in a row the daily tally increased by a triple-digit number.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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