I don’t have in mind to become a doctor or else to give medical advice on what to do or how to prevent the coronavirus! Yet as a married priest I can’t help it, in writing about some parallel lines with our basic idea of married priesthood.

Fear. If languages divide us, yet one common language was seen throughout the whole world these last weeks: FEAR. When people are afraid, one is surprised what they might do. The case of the corona beer which clearly has nothing to do with the sickness has been victimised…just because it has the corona name, many people are not buying it any more!!! It’s incredible, yet when fear takes over, common sense goes out!

What did we do as a Catholic Church for so many years? The fear of death and hell has made many people submissive to our teachings. I do know of cases where at the point of death, some people have left all their possessions to the church in the belief that they would have won heaven!! Alas, their children might have gone hungry or became poor in the meantime!

In this context, now I do see why so many people are afraid to share their stories of love with a priest. Fear takes over. Even though we promise to change any details in order to protect their identity. How can we liberate these people from the slavery of fear?

Now I do understand what a friend of mine used to say: fire does not kill many people. Panic does! In fact many people in a fire die because of panic and not of fire in itself! Who hasn’t seen the crowds in the supermarkets where some people came to blows in order to buy basic items? Some psychologists called it the fear of the unknown.

Some people panic when the priest declares himself to be married. They want to stay but their panic takes control and they go to a ‘normal church’ to get married or to get baptised. There isn’t an adult faith. It’s just convenience! They are not born fighters! A married catholic priest is an unknown entity in their religious background! It’s fear of the unknown!

Look how people invaded some supermarkets and bought more than enough portions of basic needs! Some people rightly say that the longest journey in the world is not a geographical destination but rather the I to become WE! The supermarkets gave enough proof that we need to work more on community feeling and understanding. It’s one of the main missing type of work in many parishes! We still find it too difficult to leave behind the factory of sacraments to start community building as a main issue in parish work.

One of the expressions which is has become fashionable is the internet of things. Well, in some countries they have been locked in. It goes without saying that many people have to revert to the internet to spend their time and/or to communicate and/or to buy some necessities. We are experiencing a social experiment where we are practically living just with our family members. All other people are ‘virtual’.

Well, many parishes and priests have been caught on the wrong foot. How many of them can use the internet in order to proclaim the Good News? Although many of them have social media accounts, yet they have never used the internet as a medium for their work! They still relied on churches to meet people. Yet, people, especially the young ones, are practically 24/7 on the internet. Shall the coronavirus scare teach them a lesson to start using the internet more? Can we use it for the married priesthood? This was one of our thoughts at the beginning and it still is. We weren’t allowed space in a ‘normal parish’. We didn’t find it a problem because we already knew that the internet would have gained more popularity. Consequently we would meet more young people online rather than in a ‘normal church’!! One has to note that the internet is not to be used simply as a space for mass or for other lecture type of work!!

Within the virtual world, how can we enhance the sense of community? This is going to be our next challenge. People meet online, easily. Yet it doesn’t turn them into a community. One of them is the exchange of views or ideas. We do need to respect others especially when we do not agree. We can’t call others names! We cannot judge others. We have to see the frail, human face behind the monitor or the written message.

The work of community building is a never ending job. It’s not always full of roses, although even roses have thorns! We need to have more people who believe that as a community we can achieve more and better. One, on his own, cannot achieve much.