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USCCB Administrative Committee’s pastoral message marks year of pandemic

USCCB Administrative Committee said that there is ‘much to learn from this global suffering’

WASHINGTON — U.S. life has “dramatically changed” due to the yearlong pandemic, and alongside it, racial injustices and political divisions have shaken the nation, yet there is “comfort in God’s promise,” the U.S. bishops’ Administrative Committee said in a March 9 pastoral message.

There also “is much to learn from this global suffering,” it said, adding that going forward, people must build on the many acts of sacrifice and kindness exhibited amid the scourge of COVID-19.

March 11 marks one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, “ushering in immense suffering,” the pastoral message said. This was WHO’s first such designation since declaring H1N1 influenza a pandemic in 2009.

To date, 525,000 lives have been lost to the disease just in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Worldwide, the death toll is 2.6 million.

“Many have endured extraordinary hardships: sickness, death, mourning, a lack of food, unstable housing, loss of work and income, struggles with education, separation, abuse, isolation, depression and anxiety,” said the message, approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Administrative Committee during its virtual meeting.

The committee is led by the USCCB president, who is Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez, and is made up of all chairmen of USCCB’s committees and a representative from each U.S. episcopal region. The committee operates as the board of directors.

“We witnessed racial injustices, the diminishment of the poor and the elderly, and painful divisions in our political life,” the Administrative Committee’s message said. “Yet we know, as the Psalms remind us, that we find comfort in God’s promise that gives us life (Psalm 119:50).”

The pastoral message pointed to innumerable “acts of sacrifice” and “acts of kindness” that have helped ameliorate in many ways some of the suffering — physical, emotional and financial — the pandemic has wrought.

“We also saw countless acts of sacrifice by health care workers, first responders, chaplains, those who work in our soup kitchens and homeless shelters, mail carriers, agricultural and grocery store workers, friends and even strangers,” the committee said, adding they were grateful to clergy and lay ministers who ministered to the people of God in difficult times.

Shortly after WHO declared a pandemic, U.S. archdioceses and dioceses, like their counterparts around the globe, adopted wide-ranging plans to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

“In the pandemic, God has once more revealed us to ourselves,” the committee’s pastoral message said. “As Pope Francis reminded us in St. Peter’s square last year, we are not as powerful or as in control as we thought. Rather than being ashamed of this powerlessness, or crushed by the fear of what we cannot control, our interconnectedness and dependence on God has been revealed.

“As Christians, this is a very familiar lesson: St. Paul reminds us to bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). And that law is the law of love.”

The pandemic also has “revived our sense that we are a global community, and that each of us is indeed each other’s keeper,” it said.

Read the full statement from the USCCB Administrative Committee at stlreview.com/3byzeuD

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