Peter Erdo – photo: wikipedia

Church leaders highlight ‘God’s love in trouble’

God "faithfully loves man, especially in troubled times," Cardinal Peter Erdo, the head of the Hungarian Catholic Church, told MTI on Saturday, celebrating Easter. The cardinal said Jesus "thanked his Father while preparing for torture and death" at the Last Supper. "It is important that we are able to express our gratitude to God who loves us eternally and will never leave us alone in trouble," he said.

Erdo said that during the past year of the pandemic ties between people had strengthened despite physical isolation. “It has become natural for people to pay more attention to each other,” he said.

Erdo said he was not afraid that people would “get unaccustomed to going to church” and that he was seeing “just the opposite”. “Many phone asking when they can come again or where they could have holy communion … and we can hardly wait for the situation to improve, with eased restrictions and everything again in the usual order,” he said.

Bishop Zoltan Balog, head of the synod of the Hungarian Reformed Church, said that this year “the sense of despair is deeper, but the hope of resurrection and a new life is also more realistic”.

Referring to pastors visiting Covid patients in hospital, Balog said that current times were “shocking and difficult”, and he quoted the prophet Jeremiah as saying that “death has climbed in through our windows”. He added, however, that “the world is not alone in the pandemic … He, who created it, is also able to redeem and recreate.” Recreation “starts personally”, he said, advising that “rather than waiting for global solutions and measures we should observe change taking place in ourselves and listen to a loving God that has not only created but will also free us.”

“Christ’s resurrection has a timeless message, and we are waiting for a new beginning; a resurrection,” Balog said.

Bishop Tamas Fabiny, the head of the Hungarian Evangelical Church, told MTI that “Jesus is stronger than church walls”, and “just as he could speak to the disciples who had locked themselves up, he is able to speak to people in quarantine.”

“Churches are empty this Easter,” the bishop said, calling, however, on the community “not to despair: at Easter the tomb of Jesus is also empty and the resurrected Christ will find his way to his disciples through closed doors.”

Fabiny spoke of the “heroic” efforts of pastors, adding that “they deserve praise, just as doctors, nurses, police officers, soldiers, and bakers do.” Visiting the sick or officiating at funerals, they were risking their lives, he said, adding that the Catholic, Reformed, and Evangelical communities had requested that pastors and priests should be granted preferential coronavirus vaccinations, similarly to teachers.

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