CANBERRA, Australia (CNS) — Catholic bishops in Australia will entrust the country to the care of Mary, Help of Christians, on her feast day, May 24.
The bishops approved the plan during their early May plenary meeting, conducted using videoconference technology.
Mary, Help of Christians has been the official patroness of Australia since 1844. This year, her feast coincides with the Feast of the Ascension, so the bishops agreed the entrustment also could take place May 25.
On March 11, Pope Francis entrusted the world and Italy to Mary during the pandemic. On Easter, April 12, bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean entrusted their nations to Our Lady of Guadalupe. On May 1, bishops in the U.S. and Canada reconsecrated their nations to Mary. Other countries throughout the world have done the same.
In a message issued May 14 as “A word of encouragement to the Catholic people of Australia,” the bishops noted that the country “has certainly suffered because of the pandemic, but not as grievously as some other countries.”
By May 14, Australia had nearly 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 100 deaths.
The bishops congratulated public health and government authorities for their work and noted that, for many, lack of public Masses had been “a real deprivation.”
“The bishops understand not only your anxiety about the virus and shutdown, but more especially your deep desire to return to the sacraments and to resume public worship,” they wrote.
“There is a real hunger in this. It is something we all feel, and we long for the time when our hunger will be satisfied as together we return to the feast of the Lord.”
The bishops urged the faithful to continue to adhere to government and medical advice and said Catholic leaders were working with authorities on when and how to reopen churches.