Church Expanding Commitment to Ebola Response

Justice and Peace Council Notes Church’s Financial Contributions, Focus on Parishes, Pastoral Care

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The Catholic Church continues to help fight the devastating Ebola virus.

So explains a document titled «Expanding the Catholic Church’s Commitment to the Ebola Emergency Response,» published by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and released by the Vatican today. 

According to an accompanying statement, the enhanced commitment of the Catholic Church in combating the spread of Ebola is expressed in this document which “outlines, for the first time, a pastoral response to a relatively new disease that has devastated individuals, entire families and even communities, particularly in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.”

It adds how the Catholic Church for many decades has been involved in providing humanitarian and development assistance in West Africa.

Given this, “The Church knows well how healthcare institutions of all types – already facing grave challenges due to poverty and longstanding social and political unrest – are severely challenged by the current crisis.”

More than just discussing the Church’s work in the region, the document details the work of several departments of the Roman Curia, such as the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, Propaganda Fide, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, as well as the work of Caritas Internationalis and its member organizations.

It notes that this is in addition to the efforts of Catholic agencies in various other countries, such as Catholic Relief Services of the United States, Missio Austria, and Misereor and the Medical Mission Institute in Germany.

“The Church’s intensified efforts will thus enable a greater response at the parish level and thus strengthen measures to contain the disease,” it states.

Communities

The focus of «Expanding the Catholic Church’s Commitment to the Ebola Emergency Response» is on local communities.

The response efforts, the document recognizes, are especially needed as “The Church does not come and go; people turn to the Lord in time of fear and need. This Church is a visible witness to the presence of Jesus Christ at all times but particularly at times of adversity.»

In the statement, the Holy See not only expressed its appreciation to the local Catholic Church in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone for its timely response to the Ebola crisis, but also stated that in order to strengthen these efforts, and as a practical response to the emergency, the Holy See is making a financial contribution.

“The funds will support Church-sponsored structures with a view to increasing the assistance they offer via healthcare institutions, community initiatives and pastoral care of patients and healthcare professionals.”

The Holy See also encouraged other donors, private or public, to add to these funds “as a sign of solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering gravely in the areas affected by the disease.”

The Holy See’s contributed funds will be used to purchase protective supplies, to assist with the transport of patients, and to pay for the renovation of buildings, among other things.

A portion of it will be directed toward residents in targeted communities so as to develop and enhance strategies needed to stop the spread of Ebola. Funds, it explained, are also earmarked for the support of afflicted families and orphaned children.

As part of a pastoral response, the Holy See will contribute to the care of people in affected areas by training and supporting clergy, men and women religious as well as lay pastoral workers, «ensuring that they are better equipped to attend to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the sick and the suffering.»

Parishes, the statement noted, will be a key focus of the Holy See.

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/justice-and-peace-council-on-church-s-commitment-to-ebola-response

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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