BY Ian Dunn | October 9 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

Health workers wearing protective equipment pray at start of shift before entering Ebola treatment center in Liberia

Church uniquely placed to help in Ebola crisis

The Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund launches appeal to support the work of Catholic clergy, laity and charities in fighting the infection in Africa and Europe

The Catholic Church is leading the fight against Ebola in Africa, as the first infection in Europe has been confirmed.

SCIAF has launched a new appeal urging Scottish Catholics to help the Catholic aid agency contribute to the wider Caritas Internationalis efforts against the disease.

According to the World Health Organisation, over 3800 people have died as a result of the current outbreak of Ebola, most of them in Liberia. Earlier this week the first documented case of Ebola infection in Europe was confirmed in assistant nurse Teresa Romero. She works at a Madrid hospital where two Catholic missionaries who contracted the disease in Africa died. Ms Romero, a 40-year-old auxiliary nurse, remains in quarantine in the Spanish capital along with her husband and three other people.

Mgr Robert Vitillo, special advisor on health for Caritas Internationalis, has just returned from a visit to Liberia and said the Catholic Church has 17 health facilities in the country, of which 14 have remained open through the crisis.

He said that teams are going out to parishes and ‘instructing people at parish level and at household level’ as ‘people trust Churches, people are faith filled in Liberia for the most part and so that message that’s brought by the Church is much more effective.’ He warned, however, that the situation remained grim as, in addition to the ongoing infections, there is a ‘great fear among the people about this situation and the suffering that so many people have in terms of having lost relatives and not knowing who is helping and who is not helping.’

SCIAF, an agency of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, is among the organisations stepping into that gap. SCIAF has already sent £10,000 to help Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni, Sierra Leone, to pay for specialised training for the hospital staff, surgical gloves and masks, and cleaning products such as disinfectant to stop the disease spreading.

A statement from Scottish aid agency suggests that, by working with Caritas, it can make a huge impact in halting the disease.

“The Caritas network of Catholic aid agencies [is] already working in Sierra Leone,” the statement says. “Caritas have delivered soap and chlorine to 100,000 people in the worst affected areas, and are broadcasting health information from 19 radio stations. Your donations can help us support this work too. Using expertise gained through years of tackling HIV, Caritas and Catholic Church staff are uniquely placed to help combat Ebola, but they need our help.”

At the synod of bishops at the Vatican yesterday, a special prayer was also made for all those currently suffering with, and from, the consequences of Ebola.

—To donate to the news SCIAF Ebola appeal visit


Pic: Health workers, wearing protective equipment, hold hands as they pray at the start of their shift before entering the Ebola treatment centre in Monrovia, Liberia. Joe Sehnert, a member of Ascension Parish in Chesterfield, Missouri, US, is helping in the Ebola outbreak as a lay missionary with Liberia Mission, an effort of Franciscan Works


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