, 28 April, 2020 / 5:45 PM
A Cardinal in the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius has appealed to parishioners in his country to help meet the needs of their respective parishes as their Priests struggle financially amid COVID-19 challenges that have seen reduced support toward the needy.
“I appeal to the generosity and solidarity of the parishioners to support their parish and the parish service of solidarity towards the poorest,” the Bishop of Port-Louis diocese, Maurice Cardinal Piat has appealed in a letter to parishioners dated April 24.
He explained, “The shortfall is high for the parishes because they no longer have the income from offerings, self-financing, Mass intentions, and various donations. The parishes depend on this income to pay their staff and current costs.”
In the letter, the 78-year-old Prelate expresses his knowledge of the impact of the pandemic on the general population in the island country saying, “Confinement has put in great financial difficulty many families engaged in the informal and formal sectors, without forgetting those who have lost their jobs.”
Referencing the parishioners belonging to the over 30 parishes in the one-diocese nation, the Cardinal who is a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) said, “You have always responded generously to our call, and I thank you very much.”
“From the rich he was, the Lord Jesus Christ made himself poor to enrich us with his poverty,” Cardinal Piat added citing the Second letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.
The 1.3-million-population nation has confirmed at least 334 COVID-19 cases, 9 deaths, and 302 recoveries.
Although the country has a large Hindu population, the island nation is roughly one-third Christians; 80 percent of this Christian population is Catholic.
Located about 1,930 kilometers off the coast of Africa, the country in the Indian Ocean relies, to a significant extent, on tourism industry, which employs at least 40,000 people directly. With the international travel restrictions due to COVID-19, the workers’ source of income is threatened.
In a separate video message published on April 25 as part of a charity donation campaign, the Mauritian Cardinal addresses the socio-economic challenges of COVID-19 and urges the faithful “to move from a society focused on high income to a society of high solidarity.”
High solidarity, the Mauritian Prelate who was elevated to Cardinal in November 2016 has said, “welcomes the many initiatives to support Mauritians in precarious situations.”
Their religious affiliation notwithstanding, Mauritians hold in high esteem and honor Blessed Jacques-Désiré Laval, the French Catholic Spiritan Priest who tirelessly reached out to the poor and sick in their country to earn the title “Apostle of Mauritius.” When Cardinal Piat became the Bishop of Port-Louis in 1993, he placed his episcopacy under the Blessed Laval’s protection, the very first Blessed of the Spiritans.
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