Afghanistan Closes its Only Catholic Church Amid the Coronavirus - Priest urges Prayer of the Rosary and Mercy Chaplet

ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - The only Catholic church in Afghanistan closes for the Covid-19 emergency
Saturday, 28 March 2020

Kabul (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic chapel of the Italian Embassy in Kabul - the only Catholic church in Afghanistan - has suspended celebrations to respond to the containment measures of the coronavirus. This is what Father Giovanni Scalese, Barnabite priest, at the head of the Missio sui iuris in Afghanistan reports to Agenzia Fides. "At the end of February - says the priest in a note sent to Fides - I had sent a message regarding the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the covid-19 disease. Unfortunately, the virus has continued to spread. Although, thank God, the contagion in Afghanistan has not reached the levels of China or Italy, the experience of those countries suggests that the danger of the virus should not be underestimated. The spread of the first cases in Kabul led the Embassy authorities to close the compound. So, on Monday 23 March I celebrated the last mass with the nuns. Attendance at Sunday mass, however, had already decreased significantly in recent weeks, a sign that many have already returned to their country".
The Barnabite continues to personally celebrate the Eucharist in the church inside the Embassy: "I do not know if it will be possible for me to live the rites of Holy Week, because they require the participation of the faithful or, at least, of some ministers, but in any case, every time there will be the possibility of celebrating a Holy Mass, I will do it".
The exhortation of Fr. Scalese is to live this time accompanied by personal prayer: "I encourage everyone to live their own journey of faith by making use of the celebrations and moments of prayer spread through the media. I urge you to experience this period of trial in a spirit of penance and reconciliation. I invite you to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Holy Rosary for ourselves, for our loved ones, for the victims of the Coronavirus, for health workers and for civil authorities every day".
As of March 27, 80 infected people have been registered in Afghanistan, including two diplomats and four Italian soldiers. The country, which does not have adequate health facilities to respond to a possible crisis, also experiences a state of total political uncertainty, due to the dualism between elected president Ashraf Ghani and his opponent Abdullah Abdullah, both self-proclaimed winners in the last elections. (LF-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 28/3/2020)