Vatican Round-up

Vatican backs battle to beat Ebola with €3m fund

Rome is committing €3m to the fight against Ebola in Africa, and has encouraged other donors to supplement these funds. 

Expanding the Catholic Church’s Commitment to the Ebola Emergency Response details the Church’s work in battling Ebola in such countries as Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. 

Acknowledging how African healthcare institutions are “severely challenged by the current crisis” and commending the work of local churches and other Catholic bodies, it says the global Church is called to respond as a “visible witness” to the presence of Jesus at times of adversity. 

The document focuses on local communities, with parishes being identified as a key focus. The funds will be used to purchase protective supplies, to assist patient transport, and to pay for building renovations, as well as helping afflicted families and orphaned children. 

Clergy, men and women religious and lay pastoral workers will also be trained to be better equipped to tend to “the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the sick and the suffering”.

Yazidi leaders thank Pope for his support in time of suffering

About 5,000 Yazidi women have been enslaved by Islamic State militants, Pope Francis heard at a meeting with Yazidi leaders. The Holy See’s chief spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, described how the delegation thanked Pope Francis for his support “during this time of persecution and suffering”, with one Yazidi leader calling him “father of the poor”.

One-third of the 1.5-million Yazidi live in Iraq, holding to a monotheistic faith combining elements of Zoroastrianism, Islam and Christianity with local folk beliefs. Thousands of the Kurdish-speaking Yazidis were killed after Islamic State proclaimed a caliphate in June, forcing many thousands more to flee. Pope Francis has spoken in defence of them several times, last month observing how Christians and Yazidis had despite everything refused to deny their faith. 

The delegation, led by the Yazidis’ secular and spiritual leaders Tahseen Said Al Baig and Sheikh Kato, and including Yazidi leaders from Georgia and Germany, where many have sought refuge, also spoke of good relations between Christians and Yazidis. Fr Lombardi said that Pope Francis “assured the delegates of his spiritual closeness and his support”, and expressed his hope for the reestablishment of justice and peace for the Yazidi and all persecuted minorities.

Vatican’s conference on Haiti aftermath focuses attention

Just months after Chibly Langlois (pictured), Archbishop of Les Cayes, celebrated how his appointment as Haiti’s first cardinal could help remind the world of his country’s plight, saying “one of my missions is to remind people that we exist”, Rome has once again shone a spotlight on Haiti. 

Marking the fifth anniversary of the January 2010 earthquake that killed at least 100,000 people and displaced two million more, the Vatican hosted a one-day conference intended to reactivate interest in rebuilding Haiti. 

One of the world’s poorest countries even before the earthquake, the work of rebuilding Haiti’s infrastructure has been slowed by poor communications, a dearth of local expertise and a lack of clean water. A protracted cholera outbreak, which has sickened more than 700,000 people, killing 8,500, has complicated matters further. 

Speaking at the conference, Pope Francis praised how much had been done to rebuild Haiti, but said: “We cannot ignore the fact that much remains to be done.” Stressing the complementarity of humanitarian and pastoral activities, he said “charity is not merely about helping others, but is a dimension that permeates the whole of life and breaks down all those barriers of individualism which prevent us from encountering one another”.