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US governor calls for prayer and fasting

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People unload food and provisions from the back of a ute to be distributed by firefighters throughout a public housing tower in North Melbourne, Tuesday, July 7, 2020. PHOTO: AAP/James Ross

An entire US state is asked to pray for end to COVID-19

Louisiana’s governor will be skipping lunch next week, and is encouraging Louisianans of all faiths to do the same.

The governor has called for three days of prayer and fasting for people affected by coronavirus. New Orleans’ archbishop says he hopes Catholics of the state will join in.

During a press conference on Thursday to discuss the south eastern US state’s response to COVID-10, Governor John Bel Edwards acknowledged that his latest attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus is “a little bit unusual”, but said he believes it will bear fruit for the state.

“if you’re inclined, please join me and the First Lady and faith leaders of Louisiana, regardless of your denomination or your religion”

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“I’m going to call for three days of fasting and prayer for our state, for July 20 through the 22nd,” said Edwards, explaining that he received a request for the spiritual practice during a call with religious leaders from across the state.

Prayer and fasting are “a spiritual diet and exercise that I as a Catholic Christian believe is very important, anyway,” said Governor Edwards.

The governor said he will be fasting from lunch Monday through Wednesday of next week, and “praying for the people of Louisiana,” especially the sick, their caretakers, and the families of those who have died from COVID-19.

“So if you’re inclined, please join me and the First Lady and faith leaders of Louisiana, regardless of your denomination or your religion, and we would ask that you join us in prayerful reflection and fasting,” he said.

The governor previously called for a statewide day of prayer and fasting for those affected by coronavirus March 24.

Pope Francis poses for a photo with Louisiana Govenor John Bel Edwards and his delegation during the pope’s general audience at the Vatican in 2017. PHOTO: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March and recovered from the disease in April, posted on Facebook that he also encouraged people to fast next week.

“I encourage people of all faiths to pray for those who have died from the coronavirus, for the healing of those who are sick at the present time, for caregivers and healthcare workers on the front lines, and for our protection throughout the world and particularly in our own state that the virus may come under control,” wrote the archbishop.
The New Orleans archbishop further reminded people that they must follow instructions related to masking and social distancing.

Prayer and practical action necessary to defeat virus

“We know that God hears our prayers, and we must cooperate with him in doing our part to make certain that we do not spread the virus by adhering to the governor’s call for masks and social distancing. With the governor, I also invite all people of faith and goodwill to fast on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday,” he wrote.

Fasting from a meal, explained Archbishop Aymond, is a form of prayer. By fasting, Archbishop Aymond said that “we by our actions say ‘God I hunger more for your protection and our safety than I do for food. Come to our help!’”

Following his recovery from COVID-19, the archbishop flew over the city of New Orleans in a World War II-era plane and blessed the city with holy water on Good Friday.

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