The Archbishop of Arequipa, Peru, has criticized the Peruvian government’s decision to completely shut down places of worship due to the COVID-19 epidemic, while allowing banks, malls, and restaurants to remain open.
“The recent measures taken by the government to combat the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic show, once again, that our leaders do not understand Peruvian society or those of us who are part of it.” Archbishop Javier Del Rio Alba does not mince his words.
The Archbishop of Arequipa—Peru’s second largest city in terms of population—intervened publicly on February 1, 2020 to denounce the double standards of the public authorities in the management of COVID-19.
“Thus, they have ordered the total closure of temples and centers of worship in almost all of Peru, while in the same places banks, shopping centers, and even restaurants are allowed to operate, with a capacity that can reach up to 50%,” the prelate ruefully notes and he also goes so far as to denounce a violation of the Peruvian Constitution, supposed taken in “the defense of the human person.”
And Archbishop Del Rio is surprised that the government remains deaf to the spiritual needs of “95% of Peruvians who profess some religion according to which the ‘human person’ is not only matter but is a being at the same time corporal and spiritual. Christians, who make up almost all that 95% of Peruvians, believe that the unity of the soul and the body is so deep that their union constitutes a single nature.”
The attitude of the public authorities does not surprise the Archbishop of Arequipa too much, since they are the first to advocate this “materialistic individualism typical of the ‘throwaway culture,’ which includes abortion and euthanasia promoted by the ruling party.”
However, “the countless number of martyrs during the twenty-one centuries of Church history, testifies to the importance for Christians of participating together in the celebration of Mass, and of being able to freely access the churches where we recognize the real presence of Christ,” emphasizes the prelate, who urges the authorities to be concerned about the “integral health” of Peruvians, which “includes spiritual health.”
The declaration of the Arequipa Ordinary comes on the heels of the extension of the state of emergency, which is slated to extend throughout February. Since the start of the epidemic, 40,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the country, according to official statistics.