Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Through the Emergency Fund established by Pope Francis at the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) to support local churches in mission countries (see Fides, 6/4/2020), contributions have already been sent to some countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
In Pakistan, a subsidy was given to all dioceses for the assistance of the poorest and most vulnerable Christian communities. In fact, the majority of these people usually live below the poverty line and food is the most urgent and fundamental need.
Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, has a high concentration of population, including numerous migrants who come to the city in search of daily housework. With the lockdown declared by the government, the majority of these people find themselves unemployed and unable to meet basic needs, in a dramatic situation. The Archdiocese has appealed to all members of the community and has set up a fund to help families with the distribution of food through parishes.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Gaitan, Colombia, is also experiencing a particularly difficult situation following the government-decided quarantine, which is negatively and heavily reflecting in all fields, hindering the mission of the Church, which is unable to guarantee the livelihood of priests.
In Liberia, in the diocese of Cape Palmas, the subsidies sent will serve to guarantee support for pastoral workers, who following the lockdown are unable to earn a living. In the Liberian diocese of Gbarnga, two urgent pastoral needs have been identified as a result of the socio-economic crisis, to which the Fund's subsidies will be destined: the support of parish priests and catechists and the creation of radio programs that inform about the coronavirus via diocesan radio.
In the diocese of Francistown, Botswana, an area of first evangelization, the pandemic has serious effects on the pastoral activities of Catholic communities, almost all of which are not self-sufficient. The subsidies sent will therefore be used to ensure the functioning of the diocesan secretariat and pastoral offices, as well as to ensure pastoral activity in 6 parishes in rural areas.
In the diocese of Umzimkulu, in South Africa, the pandemic hit the life of the population, the pastoral activity and the economic situation of the parish and ecclesial structures, mostly located in the rural area. Support from the Fund will therefore help local parishes and religious communities in their basic needs.
The support of the Poor Clares community of the monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Casablanca (Archdiocese of Rabat, Morocco) will also be guaranteed through the aid of the Covid-19 Emergency Fund. The five Clarisse nuns, of Mexican origin, have long supported themselves with difficulty, thanks to the production of hosts for the Eucharistic celebrations and food products placed on the market in the restaurant network. The quarantine due to the pandemic led to the suspension of these small initiatives aimed at guaranteeing the monastery's economic self-sufficiency. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 26/5/2020)