Paris, March 18th, 2020


COVID-19: Message from the bishops of France to Catholics and all our fellow citizens
All the bishops of France invite the French to a joint gesture on Wednesday, March 25.

Catholics will give it special meaning because of the feast of the Annunciation, but everyone can join it: placing a candle on his window when the bells ring will be a mark of communion of thought and prayer with the the sick and their loved ones, with all the caregivers and all those who make the life of our country possible. It will also be an expression of our desire that the exit from the epidemic finds us more determined to the lifestyle changes that we have known are necessary for years. At the same time, we Catholics will ask the Virgin Mary to fill our hearts with faith, hope and charity in these times and to obtain the grace of the Holy Spirit so that we may find the necessary gestures.
Monsignor Éric de Moulins-Beaufort Archbishop of Reims President of the French Conference of Bishops
 
Our country, along with many others, is going through a great ordeal. The head of state calls us to put aside our divisions and live this time in fraternity. That is why we wanted this message, aimed primarily at Catholics, to be addressed to all our fellow citizens without distinction. 
We do so in a spirit of humility, but with the certainty that the Christian faith has a specific mission in this world and that it must not shirk it. We also think of all those who share with us the faith in God and the conviction that He accompanies our lives. Finally, we think of all those who do not believe but want solidarity and the spirit of service to increase between men. 
To all of us, we express our desire for our national community to emerge from this ordeal. For many years now our humanity has had the intuition that it must radically change its way of life. The ecological crisis is a constant reminder of this, but determination has so far been lacking to take the necessary decisions together and to stick to them. Let us dare to say it, selfishness, individualism, the pursuit of profit, outrageous consumerism undermine our solidarity. We have the right to hope that what we are experiencing at this moment will convince the greatest number, that we must no longer postpone the necessary changes: then, this anguish-carrying tragedy will not have been crossed in vain. 
The Wednesday, March 25, 7:30 p.m.  Throughout France, the bells of all the churches will ring for ten minutes, not to call the faithful to go there, but to show our brotherhood and our common hope. 
They will sound like they rang in the great hours of our history, the Liberation for example. In response to this sign of hope, we invite anyone who wants to light candles at their window. This gesture, which is tradition in the city of Lyon, is a sign of hope that transcends the particular convictions: that of the light that shines in the darkness! 


THE FOLLOWING IS NOW ADDRESSED TO CATHOLICS.
On Wednesday, March 25, we will celebrate the Lord's Annunciation. It took place in Nazareth, at the home of a young girl, Mary. In his house, Heaven meets the earth; in his house, the salvation of the world is conceived; in his house, a new joy appears, the joy of the Gospel, a joy for the world: "For nothing is impossible to God" (Lr 1:37).
This year, without having wanted it, we will celebrate the Annunciation, confined, in our homes! Can we celebrate this feast more in truth, more intensely, more in communion?
When the bells ring, on March 25, at 7:30 p.m., every disciple of Jesus, in his house, opens his Bible (or his computer) and reads, alone or as a family, the account of the Annunciation, in the Gospel according to St. Luke, chapter 1, verses 26 to 38.
And that at the same time each house lights one or more candles, at its window, to say its hope and to confirm that of its neighbors.
We will pray in communion through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary by united with the rosary recited in Lourdes every day at 3:30 p.m. We will ask Mary to protect us and help us to better welcome Jesus in our homes, in our hearts, in our lives as she herself did for us: "Let everything come to me according to your word" (Lr 1:38) - [1st ten].
We will entrust mary who becomes Mother of the Savior and who will become our Mother, our sick brothers and sisters, our caring brothers and sisters, our tried and tested human community. We will tell him that we want to love them as we love Jesus, "the blessed fruit of his womb" (cf. Lc 1:42), He who took upon himself our sufferings and sins [2nd ten].
We will also be able to confide our fears and doubts to the woman who was all upset and asked, "How is this going to happen?" (Lc 1, 34). The fear of a life given to God, different from the one we dream of, joins the fear of death. Mary knows her from the inside and we can say to her constantly: "Pray for us poor sinners, now and at the hour of our death," as the Church taught us [3rd ten].
Finally, driven by the Spirit, we will be able to say to Jesus: "Heal us!" We do not know what the answer will be except that in a few days we will celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, the first-born of a multitude of brothers whom he brings into the life of God [4th ten.]
[5th dozen with particular intentions].
Opening one's window, lighting a candle is a gesture of communion that we want to offer to the whole nation to pay tribute to the deceased, victims of Covid-19, and also to those who give hope, caregivers, authorities but also family, friends, neighbors.
That's why we ask you to relay this message widely around you, by all the means authorized at your disposal!
                                                               THE BISHOPS OF FRANCE