– Tej Francis

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Saudi governor turns to the Mother of Jesus to overcome the coronavirus

(Asia News) In the middle of the emergency caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, “numerous success stories” have been recorded, linked above all to “perseverance, courage, strength and finding strength in faith,” writes Turki Bin Talal, governor of the province of ʿAsīr (southern Saudi Arabia) in a long editorial in the Saudi Gazette.

The governor, a Muslim, calls on people to turn to Our Lady to find strength, courage and a path to overcome the COVID-19 outbreak.

If we look at the Virgin Mary and her son, Jesus, in the Qurʼān, “we’ll find one particular story that tells of perseverance” in the quest for “a road map” to “combat struggles and pandemics.”

“In her story, she had faced the struggles of her pregnancy, self-purification, family and history against a harsh society that had shown her no mercy. It was only through Divine directives that she was able to see the path to survival and success.”

“The story of Mariam (Mary),” the governor notes, “tells the story of every true victor… The moral of her story is clear; it’s through these directives [from God] that success against all struggles and pandemics can be achieved.”

So far, Saudi Arabia has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among Arab Gulf nations.


Virginia bishops condemn Good Friday signing of abortion bill

(CNA) Virginia’s Catholic bishops lamented a decision by the state’s governor to sign abortion legislation passed in the Virginia legislature earlier this year. The bishops said it is offensive to pro-life Christians that the governor chose Good Friday as the day to sign the legislation.

“Yesterday, Governor Northam announced that he had signed the so-called ‘Reproductive Health Protection Act'(SB 733 & HB 980). We are deeply saddened and disappointed by his signature of this legislation. That he would take this action on Good Friday, one of the most solemn days for Christians, is a particular affront to all who profess the Gospel of life,” Bishops Michael Burbidge and Barry Knestout said in an April 11 statement.

“Over the past eight years, abortions have decreased by 42% in Virginia. Tragically but undoubtedly, these changes to our state law will reverse that life-saving progress and increase the number of abortions,” the state’s bishops said April 11.

For their part, the bishops said that pro-life efforts in the state “will continue to save lives because the sacrificial, life-giving love that Christ pours out on us is abundant, fruitful and overflowing.”

“As the Easter season begins, the Lord of life calls us to embrace new life in Him. Through this new life, let us come together with renewed zeal in prayer, advocacy and witness for life.”


China’s first saint was martyred on a cross in Wuhan

(CNA) China’s first canonized saint was martyred by suffocation on a cross in Wuhan, the epicenter of today’s coronavirus pandemic.

St. Jean-Gabriel Perboyre, a Vincentian missionary priest from France, was betrayed by one of his catechumens for money, bound in chains, tortured, tied to a wooden cross and strangled to death in Wuhan in 1840.

Dr. Anthony Clark, a professor of Chinese history, spent time in Wuhan researching the life of Perboyre and St. Francis Regis Clet, another 19th-century Vincentian priest martyred in Wuhan.

Clark told CNA that Wuhan’s martyr saints are particularly suitable intercessors for those suffering from COVID-19 today.

“Sts. Perboyre and Clet were both killed by strangulation; they died because they could not breathe,” he said. “How could they not be appropriate intercessors for this particular illness?”

At Perboyre’s canonization in 1996, St. John Paul II said: “Along the streets where he had been sent he found the Cross of Christ. Through the daily imitation of his Lord, with humility and gentleness, he fully identified with him. … After being tortured and condemned, reproducing the Passion of Jesus with extraordinary similarity, he came like him to death and death on a cross.”

St. John Paul II canonized St. Francis Regis Clet in October 2000, along with 33 other missionaries and 87 Chinese Catholics martyred under the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).