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The dignity of the human person is just as important as feeding them

Aloysius John, Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis says Pope Francis told them that meaningful gestures that affirm the dignity of the human person should go hand in hand with feeding people.

Paul Samasumo -Vatican City

With COVID-19 in Africa, the Church is feeding vulnerable communities, especially in conflict zones of the continent. However, Rome-based Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis -the humanitarian and emergency wing of the Catholic Church says that affirming the humanity of those suffering is just as important.

You won’t do massive work with just Euro 100 000

“Everything that goes to telling those affected by COVID-19 that, ‘you are a human person’ matters a lot.’ This is what Pope Francis wanted when he set up the Commission to spearhead the Church’s action in a post-COVID-19 world. The Pope said to us, ‘You are not going to do massive work all over the world with just Euro 100 000, but the gesture is what will be the real witness.’ This is what we are doing,” said Aloysius John, Caritas Internationalis Secretary-General.

Countries in Africa affected in varying degrees

Aloysius John was speaking this week, in Rome, when he outlined some of the programmes that Caritas, are involved-in, particularly in the conflict zones of Africa.

Almost all African countries have Covid-19 cases. What differs is the degree and extent of the pandemic. “Senegal, DRC, South Africa - with the migrant community. Then there is also Somalia,” Aloysius John said.

The Church in Africa is very present in the media

Caritas says the Church in Africa is concentrating on four approaches: Dissemination of the right information, feeding the vulnerable, caring for the elderly and providing hygienic material. All of these are done in a manner that enhances the dignity of the human person.

“Fortunately, the Church in Africa is very present to the media and sometimes has media of its own. So, the Church is one of those in the forefront, giving the right information about COVID-19. We want people to know how to take care of themselves,” said the Caritas Internationalis Secretary-General.

Doing everything that says, you are a human person

Aloysius John adds that “One of the most serious challenges of doing humanitarian work in conflict zones, not just in Africa, is how to identify those affected. Most times, they live in informal settlements, and bringing help to them is very tricky. Fortunately, the local Churches are doing a tremendous job of reaching out to them.” He continued, “Issues of proximity are also a challenge. Sometimes you have about eight people living in one place. In these cases, we give hygienic material – bring water, soap, a towel, everything that goes to say: You are a human person,” he said.

The Elderly are the most vulnerable

“Wherever the Church is to be found, we are also taking care of the elderly. They are the most vulnerable. We give the elderly and their families protective material and show them how to best take care of their elders,” said Aloysius John.


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11 June 2020, 14:38