Catholics are being encouraged to aspire to greater acts of charity during the developing coronavirus pandemic, which has led to shoppers panic buying and stockpiling essential items.
Yesterday, Sunday 15th March, as customers rushed to stores throughout the UK to panic buy long-life food and hygiene products, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, denounced such selfish behaviour, explaining that the crisis should instead provide opportunities for people to show active solidarity with the elderly, the weak and the homeless.
“We are aware of growing anxiety regarding the coronavirus and the developing global pandemic,” said Bishop Davies. “We have already seen ugly scenes of panic buying that appear to have created the very shortages people feared. This shows how selfishness never enables humanity to flourish. The Gospel shows us how it is only by self-giving love that human society flourishes. This is a lesson we must re-learn in these days.”
Instead, the bishop urged the faithful to be mindful of the elderly and the most vulnerable and not to forget those on low incomes, families who are dependent on food banks, and the homeless.
Noting that many vulnerable people cannot share in panic buying and may even be deprived of necessities, Bishop Davies said: “May no day of this health crisis pass without us giving thought to their need. It good to already see initiatives developing in parishes for the care and support of those who may be most vulnerable and isolated in the days ahead.”
He added: “As Christians, we can never lose sight of Christ’s preferential love for the sick which the Church has expressed in her mission through the centuries. This compassion led Jesus to so identify Himself with all who suffer, that He says: ‘I was sick and you visited me’ (Mt. 25: 36). No-one who suffers during this epidemic must be beyond our care or charity. However long public health concerns last, this time must call us to grow in charity, so that perfect love may overcome fear.”
Bishop Davies’ call was echoed north of the border by the Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia.
“As good citizens and members of the community, we will do whatever has to be done both as individuals and as a Church,” he said during Mass at St Andrew’s Cathedral.
“We have been hearing of sporadic episodes of greed and selfishness among the population at large. This should not be happening. I remind us all that the Lord calls us to love, compassion, patience, kindness and goodness in every circumstance, especially in times of stress and danger.”
The calls from the Church leaders come as British food retailers are urging customers to shop responsibly during the coronavirus outbreak.
British Retail Consortium members sent a joint letter to consumers urging everyone to work together to ensure there is enough food for the country.
It comes as scores of shoppers have been panic-buying essentials, including toilet paper, as fears intensify over the spread of Covid-19.
Picture: Panic buying amid the coronavirus outbreak has seen shoppers empty shelves across UK supermarkets. (Om1/Zuma Press/PA)