A joint Holy Week letter by Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez and local leaders from two major Protestant denominations reminded faithful on Good Friday of the Christian call to love one’s neighbor, especially during the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis.
Bishop John Harvey Taylor of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and Bishop R. Guy Erwin of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Southwest California Synod joined Archbishop Gomez in addressing the April 10 message to Southern California Catholics.
The text of the letter follows. A PDF of the text is here.
Grace and peace in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who courageously walked the way of the cross and rose from the dead, creating new and abundant life for all who follow him in faith. Our three Church bodies – the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, and the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – are united in proclaiming this Gospel hope and in calling the more than 5 million Southern Californians we represent to common cause especially amid the current global COVID-19 crisis.
The Paschal mysteries of Christ’s presence with us are of deep comfort at this time of uncertainty. “Lo, I am with you always,” Jesus says to us in scripture, also calling us to the priority of caring for neighbors most in need especially the sick, the bereaved, the homeless, the jobless, the imprisoned, the immigrant, children, elders, and the voiceless.
In Matthew’s account of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary’s discovery of Jesus’ empty tomb, the angel first tells the terrified onlookers “Do not be afraid.” Today, in the face of contagion and danger we do well to remember that Easter morning admonition, and take it to heart. Our three Churches stand unified in our desire to reduce fear, encourage responsible actions among our people, and honor the public health directives our communities have received. We encourage our faithful to take all measures that will reduce the spread of the virus and which, we believe, demonstrate the love of neighbor to which we are called.
Putting that neighbor-love into action is our common calling as Christians, and particularly in these challenging days. We take courage in the assurances of our Lord, from acts of heroism and sacrifice all around us, and in examples of courage from the experience of our region when the 1918 influenza outbreak also required the closure of houses of worship and inspired Angelenos to rise up in service to one another.
May our shared faith continue to strengthen us all at this time and empower us for heightened Christian service both now and in the years to come.
Yours in Christ’s Resurrection,
The Most Rev. José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
Archdiocese of Los Angeles
The Rt. Rev. John Harvey Taylor
Bishop of Los Angeles
Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles
The Rev. R. Guy Erwin, Ph.D.
Bishop, Southwest California Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America