The response of the Church in India and the Archdiocese of Bombay to the Corona Virus Pandemic
Updated: Jun 8
This battle against COVID 19 is not an easy one, but we stand united, armed with faith that we shall overcome.
The COVID 19 pandemic has gripped the world and, in the face of overwhelming odds, the Church in India is doing its part to help curb the outbreak, offer its services to help those in need and contribute to the overall well-being of the people.
In the first week of April, His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, sent a letter to the Prime Minister offering full assistance from the Church during this critical time. The Prime Minister held a video conference with health workers, which included various representatives of the Church, mainly, the Director of Caritas India and Director General of the Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI). On April 2, 2020, the Prime Minister’s Office held another video conference to discuss the case of migrant workers. Cardinal Oswald Gracias also participated in this discussion.
His Eminence interacted with the Director General (DG) of the Home Guards, following the conference, about providing assistance to migrant workers, which was highlighted as the immediate problem that needed to be tackled. The Home Guard DG requested the use of facilities around the city, for the distribution of food to distressed migrant workers. This was essential to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In the Archdiocese of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias has also set up a Crisis Management Team to swiftly analyse and respond to the changing scenario on a daily basis. His Eminence has also appealed to all Churches within the Archdiocese, not to terminate any staff and ensure that salaries are paid, even if they do not work during the lockdown.
To control the outbreak, Government authorities announced a lockdown initially for twenty-one days, ending April 14, 2020, which has now been extended to May 3, 2020. This has led to widespread unemployment and loss of livelihoods for labourers, who survive on daily wages. As an outreach to tribal and daily wage workers, the Centre for Social Action, through its network of partner organisations across Raigad, Thane and Mumbai, is reaching out to over 3000 households, with essential supplies amounting to Rs 25 lakhs. All contributions have been accepted through online payment processes, and all billing too, involves zero cash transactions. The beneficiaries include tribal, migrant, elderly, transgenders, rag-pickers and other vulnerable persons in Borivali, Dombivali, Dongri, Gorai, Kalyan, Karjat, Khopoli, Kolad, Mahad, Mahim, Malad East, Malwani, Manori, Murbad Road, Pali Chowk, Panvel, Pen, Roha, Tala, Thane, Uttan and Versova. The Archdiocese of Bombay has offered the premises of four schools to assist in the relief measures.
Due to the present situation, utmost care and precaution was taken to abide by the regulations of the lockdown. In most cases, the distribution of essentials was organized in collaboration with local officials. The Collector’s office in Kalyan and Dombivali approached the local church for assistance in providing cooked food and rations to various target groups. Other parishes within the Archdiocese have also offered assistance to local authorities.
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