A Call for Hope: 20,000 faithful share phone conversation with Archbishop Aquila

Aaron Lambert

Social distancing provides a great opportunity to do something many of us likely don’t do much of anymore: speak on the phone.

And on Sunday, March 22, that’s exactly what 20,000 people of the Archdiocese of Denver did with Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and former CDC virologist Deacon Rob Lanciotti. The call was hosted to answer the faithful’s questions about the coronavirus outbreak and how the archdiocese is responding.

A multitude of topics were touched upon, including a spiritual reflection from Archbishop Aquila on how we as Christians are to respond in this pandemic, what Easter Masses are going to look like, what it means to “flatten the curve,” and much more.

We’ve assembled some quotes and highlights from the call for you below. You can also listen to the full call here.

Archbishop’s comments

On whether God created coronavirus

“…We need to understand that it is not God who creates the plague or the virus. This is something of nature. It happens. And and with that, the Lord certainly permits it. And it is to him that we truly need to turn during this time and and certainly seek his wisdom in all that we do and in the decisions that are made certainly in our own time.”

On what the Lord is teaching through this

“…As we reflect on it from a spiritual point of view, we can see that the Lord perhaps is desiring to bring good out of this, and that is to wake us up to the truth that we are not God, that we are creatures, that we have been created by God and for God, and that it really calls us out of indifference. It calls us out of seeking our own preferences. And it truly is a wakeup call.”

On how the Easter Triduum will be celebrated

“…All of the parishes, through a decree that came from the Holy See within the last few days, gave to all parish priests permission to celebrate in their parishes Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday without a congregation. And so the parishes that are able to livestream that will be livestreaming it. And we’ve encouraged them to do that.\And I, too, will be celebrating the Triduum liturgies at the cathedral without a congregation present. And these liturgies will all be livestreamed for the faithful to participate.”

On what to pray for

“I want to give you encouragement, continue to pray, continue to open your heart to the Lord and really put your trust in him, and especially to exercise the virtue of charity and especially for caring for the elderly. It is the people who are 60 or older who are most impacted by this virus. And so it will be important in the weeks and even months ahead to be cautious and to follow all of the directives of health care providers and and so that they do not get sick. And it’s important to stay in touch with our elderly and to give them encouragement during this time, because it’s difficult for them as they’re confined to their homes or confined to their rooms if they’re in nursing homes or in assisted living places, most of them are confined. And so keeping them in prayer and holding them up to the Lord and also really praying for health care officials and and praying especially for scientists.”

Deacon Lanciotti’s comments

On how we can overcome the virus

“The challenge is we’re facing a highly transmissible respiratory virus that’s been introduced into a population that has essentially no immunity at all. That’s what is the foundation of a pandemic. And so it’s I think it’s important to understand that what will ultimately end this pandemic is immunity in the population – people developing antibodies and other activations in their immune system to combat this virus. Now, immunity is only achieved two ways. One is by getting infected naturally. And the other is by vaccination. And so that’s really the goal, is for the population to develop immunity to this virus. I know there’s a vaccine that’s already in people in trials in Seattle, but that’s what we need. We need immunity. What these measures are designed to do is slow down the number of infections so that everybody can be adequately treated in a hospital.”

On social distancing and flattening the curve

“One analogy to think of is if you took all of the crime that occurs in Denver in a year’s period and condensed it into one night, what would happen? It would be a disaster, because a lot of people that would normally be treated and and taken to a hospital and cared for, a lot of those people would needlessly die because there just aren’t enough personnel, ambulances, so forth and so on. And that’s essentially what these measures are designed to do. We want to slow down this epidemic such that everybody who is infected, it can occur over a longer period of time so that everyone can be treated comprehensively. That’s what we mean by flattening the curve. In a typical epidemic where you do nothing, you get an incredibly logarithmic or rapid rise in cases. And it all happens fairly quickly in a matter of weeks or maybe a month.\These measures are designed to slow things down so everyone can be treated.”

On how we should respond

“I would just remind everyone this is the time to take precautions to do the right thing, but not to panic. At the end of the day, we’re talking about a virus that in the majority of cases will not cause severe outcomes. There are many people that are suffering from this, but it is a virus that is is going to have a minimal effect on the majority of the people. And so we have to be safe and we have to show love and charity to those around us by not transmitting it. There really is no cause for fear. We just have to wait this out, follow what we’ve been told and pray that in addition to all that we can do to slow this down, that God will intervene as well and help us.”

Call-in comments

Gratitude for Archbishop Aquila’s leadership

“Your Excellency, I’m just calling to thank you so much for your care and prayers for us and for your words of encouragement that is helping us to get through this difficult time. Thank you especially for caring and for protecting our priests. Know that there are many, many of us that are praying for you daily, for the most powerful intercession of Mary and St. Joseph, for your protection, strength and peace, and good health. Thank you, your excellency.”

Featured Photo by Daniel Petty/Denver Catholic

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