WelCom June/July 2021
Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), has pledged the support of the Church’s social and health resources to help with India’s COVID-19 crisis.
After a meeting with Caritas India, he said, ‘We are preparing ourselves to help people, nationally, for relief in different ways – to help people of all faiths, without discrimination of caste or creed.’
Although Christians make up less than three per cent of India’s population, the Catholic Church has an outsized influence in the country’s health, education, and social services sectors. The Catholic Church in India operates over 1000 hospitals with over 60,000 beds.
Catholic schools would be used as isolation and quarantine centres for people suspected of having COVID-19, and other Catholic facilities used as vaccination centres.
Cardinal Gracias said the Church is committed to providing healthcare to all, especially people on the margins of society.
‘We are also coordinating financial aid to buy additional ventilators and increase our medical equipment to save the lives of our people,’ he said.
‘In rural areas, the Christian healthcare institutions have been in the forefront of fighting various diseases like TB, leprosy, HIV, and support for people with disabilities. Over 50,000 nuns, more than 1000 of them doctors, work in these hospitals and all this is being made available to save our people,’ the Cardinal said.
Cardinal Gracias said the Catholic Church would put all its institutions at the service of the people. He said Catholic schools would be used as isolation and quarantine centres for people suspected of having COVID-19, and other Catholic facilities used as vaccination centres.
He added that Catholic religious personnel all over the country would be involved in the campaign to encourage people to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
To date [as at May 2021] India has reported over 22 million confirmed infections and 240,000 deaths. Experts say both figures are undercounts. Many of the deaths have been deemed preventable and resulted from a shortage of oxygen in the country’s hospitals.
Sources: Associated Press, Crux.