ASIA/VIETNAM - Pastoral activities resume, with attention to interreligious solidarity

Monday, 18 May 2020 coronavirus   pastoral   catholic church   liturgy   solidarity   dialogue   buddhism  

Hanoi (Agenzia Fides) - Public religious activities blocked for at least six weeks due to the Covid-19 emergency have resumed, albeit with due caution. The green light from the authorities was given on May 8 when Vu Chien Thang, at the head of the government's Religious Affairs Committee, announced that the virus was now "under control" and that all provinces were now at low risk of infection. The Committee has therefore authorized all religious organizations to resume normal activities, provided that the necessary preventive measures are guaranteed, including quarantine for those coming from outside. News which was also welcomed by the Catholic Church: "We are pleased to thank God and to believe that the prayers of the faithful from all over the world contributed to fighting the pandemic", was the comment by Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hanoi.
Although there has been no infection of the virus in the country for more than a month and Vietnam has not registered any deaths, attention remains high. Observing the precautions, however, does not mean standing still: it is with this spirit that the Sacred Heart Priests (Dehonians) in Hue, the ancient capital, are working alongside Buddhist nuns with a specific goal: to assist people with serious physical disabilities, a very vulnerable sector of the population. As Fides learns, a few days after the reopening, some priests and lay volunteers led by Father Joseph Phan Tan Ho, head of the Sacred Heart Congregation in Hue, visited and offered gifts to the Buddhist Center for Disabled Children in Hue, where they were received by Buddhist nun Thich Nu Thoai Nghiem, deputy director of the Long Tho Pagoda: "The Center is mainly based on donations and we ask for support because we have food shortages due to the Coronavirus epidemic", she said. The day saw priests and volunteers cook, serve meals and play with the children.
In fact, the situation for the most vulnerable communities of the population has worsened with Covid-19: the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva has published a special guide while the local office of the UN Development Program (UNDP) has just made known a "Rapid Assessment of the Socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities in Viet Nam". According to the results of the report, 82% of the respondents are concerned about the effects of the virus and 70% among them have difficulties not only in accessing medical assistance and rehabilitation services, but also in controls and medicines. Finally, 25% of them have difficulty obtaining face masks and disinfectants. (MG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 18/5/2020)



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