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COVID-19 testing clinic in Sydney A Covid-19 testing clinic in Sydney, Australia  (ANSA)

Covid-19: Australian Church increases response to pandemic

The Church in Australia is inviting its various networks across the country to play their part in providing facilities that could be made available to support national efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19.

By Vatican News

At a time when everyone is pulling together to do their bit to halt the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the Church in Australia is sending out a clarion call to its various agencies all over the country to support national efforts in dealing with the pandemic.

Healthcare and education at forefront of Church response

The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge noted that at present, “the Catholic hospital and aged care network is at the forefront of the Church’s response” to the pandemic.

Apart from vital hospital treatment for those affected by the Coronavirus, the Archbishop highlighted that priests, religious, pastoral workers and social service agencies “are also working on the spiritual, emotional and psychological needs of people affected by the virus directly, as well as those for whom the social distancing and isolation guidelines are a burden”.

Another area where the Church is at the forefront at this time, is in the field of education, with teachers supporting students, especially the children of essential, frontline workers.

There have been over 4,800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia and with new cases still emerging, Archbishop Coleridge said that parishes, schools and religious orders “have their own role to play in increasing the capacity of state and territory governments and their health departments to respond to this pandemic.”

The Church at the service of the community

During the recent bushfire disaster that wreaked havoc in Australia, the Advisory Council of Catholic Emergency Relief Australia emerged to strengthen the Church’s response to that crisis. Now, it’s looking at effective ways of responding to this current outbreak.

Susan Pascoe, chair of the Council said, “a national audit has commenced to understand what Catholic buildings might be put on standby to be made available if more facilities are needed for testing people who could be infected, for people to self-isolate, for front-line workers to be accommodated away from their homes and other reasons.”

She underlined, that with many Church spaces available for use, and as a very prominent part of each community across the nation, “the Catholic Church has a responsibility in this pandemic, and the Church takes that seriously.”

Archbishop Coleridge pointed out, that in light of these unique circumstances, the national audit will also create a database that could assist in responding to other disasters, “with Church properties being utilised as evacuation centres, food banks or for other purposes in service of the community as a whole.”

01 April 2020, 12:37