(Source: CD/Fides)

Pope Francis has established an emergency fund at the Pontifical Mission Societies in order to come to the aid of those people and communities who are being tragically impacted by the spread of COVID-19.

The Emergency Fund will be used to accompany impacted communities in mission countries via Church structures and institutions.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, welcomed the announcement:

“In her task of evangelisation, the Church is often on the front lines of major threats to human well-being.

“In Africa alone, there are over 74,000 religious sisters and over 46,000 priests operating 7,274 hospitals and clinics, 2,346 homes for elderly and the vulnerable, and educating over 19 million children in 45,088 primary schools.

“In many rural areas they are the only providers of healthcare and education.

“The Holy Father is calling upon the Church’s entire vast network to face the challenges ahead”, Cardinal Tagle said.

The pontiff has designated US$750,000 as an initial contribution for the fund and has asked that those Church entities that are able and desirous to help to contribute to this fund through the Pontifical Mission Societies in each country.

Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, said:

“This fund has the aim of supporting the presence of the Church in mission territories which also suffer the consequences of the coronavirus.

“Through the Church’s activity of preaching the Gospel and of practical aid through our vast network, we can show that no one is alone in this crisis.

“In this sense, the Church’s institutions and ministers play a vital role.

“This is the Holy Father’s intention in establishing this fund. While so many are suffering, we remember and reach out to those who may have no one to care for them, thus showing forth the love of God the Father”.

The Pontifical Mission Societies is the Holy Father’s official channel of support for more than 1,110 dioceses mostly in Asia, Africa, Oceania and part of the Amazon region.

Archbishop Dal Toso continued:

“I call upon our network of Pontifical Mission Societies, present in every diocese around the world, to do what they can to support this important initiative of the Holy Father”.

Contributions can be made to: IT84F0200805075000102456047 (SWIFT UNCRITMM) for: Amministrazione Pontificie Opere Missionarie, indicating: Fund Corona-Virus.

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.