With the onset of increased Covid-19 restrictions, Hamilton Bishop Stephen Lowe has encouraged people not to be afraid, but to instead follow Mary’s example and keep one’s eyes fixed on Jesus.
In a pastoral letter to the diocese on August 15, Bishop Lowe stated that now, more than ever, we need to deepen our faith and, like Mary, be filled with courage.
He asked for prayers for our country and for the world.
Bishop Lowe said that the Assumption and Pentecost remind us that “God never abandons us”.
In a facebook post on August 14, Cardinal John Dew stated that, during the level 4 Covid-19 lockdown, the New Zealand bishops had many requests from people “asking us to consecrate New Zealand to Mary, using the title ‘Mary, Queen of the World’ or ‘The Immaculate Heart of Mary’”.
But the cardinal said this country was dedicated to Mary, under her title of the Assumption, by Bishop Pompallier in 1838.
The movement in alert levels – level 3 for the Auckland region and level 2 for the rest of New Zealand – came into force on August 12.
Cardinal Dew, in a pastoral letter, said churches have proven to be part of the spread of the virus overseas “and we don’t want that in New Zealand”.
“To be safe, I am suspending all Masses and parish activities which involve gathering until Tuesday, August 18,” he said.
The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference released a statement outlining the pastoral implications of the government’s announcement where parishes are under alert levels 2 and 3.
Similar measures were taken as for the previous periods when these alert levels applied.
Under alert level 2, the decision as to whether Masses could continue was left to dioceses and parishes. A dispensation of attendance at Sunday Mass was applied.