Dushanbe (Agenzia Fides) - "We are not living the time of Advent as usual and we will not be able to celebrate Christmas like other years: indeed, since April 23 until a date to be decided, churches, mosques and other places of worship in Tajikistan have been closed for security reasons related to Covid-19. It is not possible to organize events or celebrations with many people, but we can go out freely. That is why we priests always remain in contact with the faithful. We pay them a visit t, as an 'outgoing Church', meeting them in their homes. We try to meet all the needs of the faithful, for example by buying food and medicines, but above all we bring the Sacraments such as Communion and Confession. Many of our faithful, over the months, have contracted Covid-19 and our presence is a source of comfort and consolation. Unfortunately, we cannot organize meetings or celebrations digitally because in Tajikistan access to the Internet is very expensive. Ordinary people have no connection at home and have insufficient data traffic on their smartphone. It is therefore almost impossible for them to remain connected during Mass or the recitation of the Rosary". This is what Father Pedro Ramiro López, from the Institute of the Incarnate Word, Superior of the Missio sui iuris of Tajikistan since 2013, told Fides.
Although parish activities have been stopped to respect social distancing, the pandemic has not stopped the charitable actions of local Catholics, carried out by Caritas. Since the start of the pandemic, the local Caritas has taken steps to guarantee a service of distributing masks and hand sanitizers to the homeless in the capital, Dushanbe. The assistance service for the homeless was launched before the pandemic but has been strengthened with the increase in the number of infections, especially among the poorest, who represent a large part of society according to a survey conducted in last April by the Asian Development Bank. In fact, according to this document, out of a total population of approximately 9 million inhabitants, 27.4% live below the poverty line.
A second project has been launched in the small town of Qubodiyon, in which the Church has created a new post to fight the spread of Covid-19 for the benefit of some 20,000 people living in the area, including detainees and prison staff .
The Catholic community of Tajikistan is very small, but lives its faith in an intense and constant way: there are about 100 to 120 faithful in the parish of St. Joseph in Dushanbe and another twenty in the church of Qurgonteppa, a city 100 kilometers from the capital. Currently, the Catholics of Tajikistan are assisted by 3 Argentine priests from the Institute of the Incarnate Word, 4 Missionary Sisters of Charity and 3 religious from the Institute of Servants of the Lord and of the Virgin of Matarà. (LF-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 9/12/2020)