, 18 April, 2020 / 2:29 AM
The Apostolic Nuncio in the Southern Africa nation of Zimbabwe has responded to an appeal made by the Catholic Bishops in the country for assistance in the fight against COVID-19, donating medical supplies and cash amounting to US$30,000.00.
“As an expression of Pope Francis’ proximity in the context of the Covid-19 emergency, the Apostolic Nunciature has purchased medical supplies equivalent to the amount of US$20,000.00,” Archbishop Paolo Rudelli who was appointed to represent the Holy Father in Zimbabwe in January stated in his message about the donation.
Catholic Bishops in Zimbabwe made an appeal for assistance through the Health Commission of their national conference.
The country has reported at least 24 cases of COVID-19; two people have recovered and three have died, including 30-year-old Zokoro Makamba, a journalist.
In his statement, Archbishop Rudelli announced, “The materials will be delivered, in the coming days, to the Episcopal Health Commission, together with US$10,000.00 in cash, as a contribution to the appeal for assistance launched by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) towards support for its mission health initiatives.”
ZCBC National Health Coordinator, Sr. Salome Mateko acknowledged with appreciation the gesture of generosity on the part of the Apostolic Nuncio saying the Bishops’ Commission “greatly appreciates the contribution, which will go a long way in ensuring the safety of health workers.”
The Catholic Church in Zimbabwe currently runs 55 health facilities spread across the eight dioceses.
“We have selected one health center in each diocese that will be used as a testing center. Our hope is that they will be well equipped with all facilities we need to handle the cases,” Sr. Mateko who is a member of the Congregation of Jesus (C.J.) said.
The health centers, Sr. Matoke disclosed, were selected based on their bed capacity and in accordance with guidance from the country's Ministry of Health and Child Care.
“We are trying to avoid putting people at risk, and we are reaching them through health education because there is very little knowledge about this pandemic,” Sr. Mateko added.
On April 6, Pope Francis established an emergency fund at the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), which will be used to “aid those people and communities who are being tragically impacted by the spread of COVID-19.”
The Holy Father designated US$750,000.00 to the project and appealed to all “who are desirous to help” to contribute to the fund, through the Pontifical Mission Societies in their respective countries, Agenzia Fides reported.
PMS President, Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso said that by establishing the fund, the Holy Father aims to support the presence of the Church in mission territories, which also suffers the consequences of COVID-19.
“Through the Church’s activity of preaching the Gospel and of practical aid through our vast network, we can show that no one is alone in this crisis,” Archbishop Toso said and added, “While so many are suffering, we remember and reach out to those who may have no one to care for them, thus showing forth the love of God the Father.”
Meanwhile, the Prefect of Propaganda Fide, Luis Cardinal Tagle welcomed the fund saying, “In her task of evangelization, the Church is often on the front lines of major threats to human well-being.”
In Africa alone, the Filipino Cardinal observed, “There are over 74,000 religious sisters and over 46,000 priests operating 7,274 hospitals and clinics, 2,346 homes for elderly and the vulnerable, and educating over 19 million children in 45,088 primary schools.”
He added in reference to clerics and religious men and women in Africa, “In many rural areas they are the only providers of healthcare and education.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa