18 June 2020, The Tablet

Global Church responds to Covid-19

Global Church responds to Covid-19

The President of Bolivia, Jeanine Añez Chávez, at Corpus Christi Mass.
Christian Lombardi/Zuma Press/PA Images

As lockdown measures are loosened in the UK, the Church globally has continued to respond to the coronavirus crisis through volunteering, prayer, and activism.

In Bolivia, 43 migrant workers, formerly resident in Chile, have been able to return to their families after the Church in both countries intervened on their behalf. The coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdown measures have left many precarious workers without a means of support, a situation worsened where the workers are also migrants.

The group of Bolivians had found themselves stranded in Chile after lockdown measures were imposed, without a means of returning home. They were able to make the 16-hour journey earlier this week after the Church in Copiapó, Chile negotiated with the regional government, immigration officials, and the police to allow them safe passage home. The returning workers form the second group of Bolivian citizens that the Chilean diocese has helped return home in recent months.

Haitian Catholics are preparing for the annual feast of their countries patron, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, with festivities adapted to meet lockdown regulations. On the day of the solemnity, June 27, there will be three Masses held, and a procession with the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help that will travel from the Cathedral of Port-au-Prince and to the chapel of Notre-Dame-du-Perpétuel-Secours in Bélair. At the conclusion of the festivities, the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Mgr Max-Leroy Mesidor, will give a blessing to the Haitian people.

Due to lockdown restrictions, however, only a small group will participate physically in those celebrations, with most Haitian Catholics following along by radio, television, and online. Thirty days of prayer and a ten-day novena will lead up to the feast day, focusing on this year’s theme: "Oh Mary, mother of the Haitian people, help us in this suffering."

This theme reflects the difficult economic and socio-political position of Haitians, compounded by the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with 4,688 Haitians have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and 82 who have died due to the disease.

In Myanmar, the small Catholic community in that South-east Asian country has thrown its weight behind efforts to combat the coronavirus through volunteering, fundraising and medical aid. In the diocese of Yangon, several Church buildings, such as St Joseph major seminary, have been used to host nurses, doctors, and volunteers working to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Large numbers of young Christians have volunteered to work in hospitals and clinics, and the diocese has helped provide 683 workers with protective equipment. Around 750,000 Catholics live in Myanmar, approximately one per cent of the largely Buddhist countries total population. Although there have only been 262 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Myanmar, it is suspect that this is due to low testing rates amongst the general population.

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