Pontifical Mission Societies Fund
The COVID-19 pandemic also extended its shadow in the continents of the southern hemisphere, especially in Latin America but also in Africa and Asia.
It deals partly with those areas considered as mission lands for the Church, where there has been scarcity of resources and which in the wake of coronavirus could create very difficult situations.
That’s the reason why Pope Francis decided to help the population of these areas with the establishment of an emergency fund at the Pontifical Mission Societies.
The initial contribution made by the Holy Father amounts to 750,000 USD.
Grants have already been awarded for the most urgent needs of some dioceses:
In South Africa, several dioceses have asked and obtained help from the PMS Emergency Fund for Covid-19. The first requests concerned the management of the humanitarian crisis: people were starving due to the fact that they were forced to stay at home while the government’s food provisions were slow to arrive.
In Morocco, the PMS Fund has guaranteed the livelihood of the small community of Poor Clares of the monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Casablanca (archdiocese of Rabat).
This community is maintained thanks to the production of hosts for Eucharistic celebrations and food products marketed in the network of the restaurants. The quarantine has led to the suspension of the demand for those religious products, and their existence has been put in serious difficulty.
Help from the Covid-19 Emergency Fund will contribute to the livelihood of the Clarisse community in these difficult times. More information here.
In Pakistan, a subsidy was awarded to all dioceses for assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable Christian communities. In fact, most of these people usually live below the poverty line and, following the isolation rules during Covid 19, they have not been able to obtain food, the minimum sustenance and the most urgent and fundamental need.
Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, has a very high concentration of population, including numerous migrants who come to the city in search of daily housework. With the lockdown declared by the government, the majority of these people find themselves unemployed and in a dramatic situation, unable to meet basic needs.
More information here.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Gaitan, Colombia, is also experiencing a particularly difficult situation following the quarantine: the Church is not even able to guarantee even the livelihood of the priests.
In Liberia, in the diocese of Cape Palmas, the subsidies were sent to guarantee the sustenance of the pastoral workers, who after the lockdown are unable to earn a living. In the Liberian diocese of Gbarnga, two pastoral needs were identified for which the Fund's subsidies were destined: the support of parish priests and catechists and the creation of radio programs that inform about the coronavirus through the diocesan radio.
In the diocese of Francistown, Botswana, an area of first evangelization, the subsidies were sent to ensure the functioning of the diocesan secretariat and pastoral offices, as well as to ensure pastoral activity in six parishes in rural areas.
For more information, click here.
The diocese of Sao Tomé and Principe which usually live in a situation of great poverty, further aggravated with the Covid-19 pandemic. The suspension of Masses with the participation of the faithful forced the use of television and radio to broadcast celebrations and moments of prayer, which however entailed high economic commitments for the local Church that was unable to meet the expenses.
The diocese of Kenema, in Sierra Leone, includes a predominantly rural area, where most of the inhabitants depend on subsistence agriculture. Unemployment affects 70 percent of the population. The situation of priests and religious communities is also very serious.
Most of the inhabitants of the diocese of Sarh, Chad, also derive their livelihood from agriculture. Through radio programs, the Church informs about the coronavirus and the precautions to follow. Aid is urgently needed for diocesan Caritas, so that it can answer the questions of parish Caritas for the purchase of cereals, and for priests and religious communities who are deprived of all sustenance in this situation.
The diocese of Kankan, in Guinea, which is already experiencing a very difficult economic situation, sees with particular concern the consequences of the pandemic. The norms issued to combat the emergency have led to an increase in food prices, while the closure of churches and pastoral activities has severely affected the life of faith, endangering it.