By Vatican News staff writer
Pope Francis has made a donation of two portable ventilators with stands, ten boxes of surgical masks, 10 boxes of N95 masks and pulse monitors to Good Shepherd Catholic Hospital in Siteki, Eswatini, to support ongoing efforts in the fight against the Covid-19.
Expressing gratitude for the Pope’s gift in a blog post on Wednesday, Bishop José Luis Ponce de León of the country’s lone diocese, Manzini, highlighted the Holy Father’s “active role and leadership” since the beginning of the pandemic.
Pope Francis’ leadership
“As soon as the first lock-downs were announced in Italy,” the Pope suspended “all the public prayers and weekly audiences” and “called the world to prayer and prayed for the world,” he said, recalling in particular, the “Statio Orbis” presided over by the Pope “all alone” in St. Peter’s Square, on 27 March 2020.
“It was the image of a world experiencing lockdowns but at the same time the image of a shepherd that remains close to the sheep,” Bishop Ponce de León said.
Then, when vaccines became available, the Bishop continued, the Holy Father “immediately got vaccinated and called the world to do the same” and described vaccination as “a lifesaving and ethical obligation.” Furthermore, the Pope repeatedly stressed the need for "universal access to vaccines,” urging a "temporary suspension of intellectual property rights.”
In all, the Pope placed emphasis on “prayer, vaccines and solidarity with health systems around the world.”
Go, and do the same yourself
Inspired by Pope Francis’ leadership, Bishop Ponce de León recalled Jesus’ words at the end of the parable of the Good Samaritan: “Go, and do the same yourself,” (Lk 10:37).
In this regard, he notes that the example of the Pope is “not only for religious leaders but for all of us, as today’s 'good samaritans' called to “prayer, to respect Covid-19 protocols, to be vaccinated, to encourage others to do the same and to support those in need.”
Finally, the Bishop extended a blessing upon all, including the staff working at the Catholic hospital.
Covid-19 in Eswatini
Eswatini has had over 34,000 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 infection since the pandemic began, with just over 900 deaths. Vaccination efforts are still ongoing in the country that used to be known as “Swaziland” up until 2018.