, 27 April, 2020 / 11:00 PM
Catholic journalists in Africa have been urged to support the COVID-19 Commission, which Pope Francis established mid-April, by volunteering their journalistic skills and platforms to help achieve its goals.
The appeal is contained in a Monday, April 27 Press Release by the Union of the African Catholic Press (UCAP), the Vatican-recognized organization that brings together Catholic journalists in both Church and secular media across Africa.
“As Catholic journalists, we should heed this call by supporting the Commission on this noble cause by volunteering our journalistic skills and platforms by identifying and highlighting the real needs of our local churches – especially those in poor areas as per the Papal appeal,” UCAP President, George Sunguh has written on behalf of the body’s Executive Council.
According to a Vatican statement released April 15, Pope Francis created a commission that would assist those affected by COVID-19 crisis.
Expected to work in partnership with the Roman Curia and particularly the Peter Cardinal Turkson-led Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, COVID-19 Commission was established “to express the concern and love of the Church for the whole human family in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, above all through the analysis and reflection on the socio-economic and cultural challenges of the future and the proposal of guidelines to face them.”
Other members of the Commission include the Secretary to the Vatican-based Dicastery Archbishop Bruno-Marie Duffé, and Fr. Augusto Zampini who is the new Deputy Secretary. They will submit their reports directly to Pope Francis.
By supporting the Commission, the leadership of UCAP reflected in its April 27 letter, Catholic journalists in Africa will be expressing their solidarity with Pope Francis.
“We appreciate what the church is already doing to alleviate the pain the vulnerable people are already going through following the Lock Down and Curfew imposed by various countries,” the leadership of the Catholic journalists in Africa has stated, adding, “We should not leave out the vulnerable groups such as prisoners, widows, orphans and street families, who are all going through very difficult moments due to the pandemic.”
To further support the activities of the Pope’s Commission, UCAP has called upon the members of the association with expertise in Science and Health “to volunteer their expertise where necessary for the success of this mission.”
“We should continue to pray for care and healing of our brothers and sisters as we carry out our duty as journalists guided by the church teachings,” Kenyan-born President of UCAP, Mr. Sunguh urged on behalf of UCAP leadership.
UCAP recently encouraged Catholic journalists in the world’s second largest continent to take up the responsibility of identifying and exposing fake news about COVID-19 in the face of increasing misinformation about the pandemic.
COVID-19 Commission comprises five working groups with the first group working with Caritas Internationalis to respond to the crisis, Cardinal Turkson has been quoted as saying in an interview with Vatican News, adding that this group has “set up mechanisms to listen to the local Churches to identify real needs and assist in the development of effective and adequate responses.”
The second group “has the task of night watch, like the sentry, to perceive the dawn” and is working in close collaboration with the Pontifical Academy of Life, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences to research and study the pandemic.
The third group, Cardinal Turkson disclosed, is responsible for the Commission’s communication through awareness creation. The group will use the modern means of communication to foster renewed commitment in the COVID-19 interventions to support those in need.
According to the Ghanaian-born Cardinal, the fourth group “will deal with all possible initiatives regarding the relationship with States or multilateral relations. It will be coordinated by the Secretariat of State. In this area, there is also a need for concrete action and prophecy.”
The fifth group will be responsible for soliciting necessary funds, in a transparent manner, by promoting a virtuous movement of wealth.
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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