The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development met on Tuesday, July 21 by videoconference with representatives of the Bishops' Conferences of Chile (CECH) and Peru (CEP) regarding the health emergency caused by COVID-19.
Mgr. Fernando Ramos, Archbishop of Puerto Montt, Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Chile (CECH), opened the meeting with a general overview of the impact of COVID-19 on the country.
Mgr. Pedro Ossandón, Apostolic Administrator of Valparaíso, President of Caritas Chile, spoke about the Church's commitment to the pandemic, presenting the project "Nadie Se Salva Solo" launched by Caritas Chile.
Mgr. Galo Fernández, Apostolic Administrator of Talca, spoke about the migratory situation during the most acute phase of the emergency, focusing especially on initiatives related to accompaniment.
Mgr. Fernando Chomalí, Archbishop of Concepción, took also part in the meeting, as well as some prelates of Peru: Mgr. Jorge Izaguirre, CSC, Bishop of Chuquibamba and President of the Episcopal Commission of Social Action (Peru), Mgr. Ciro Quispe, Bishop Prelate of Juli (Peru) and Mgr. Miguel Fuertes, Diocesan Administrator of Iquitos (Peru).
All the bishops stressed how, in the face of the pandemic, a great response of solidarity has emerged from the local areas. The parish communities, the representatives of the social bodies, as well as many volunteers have committed themselves to managing the responses to the needs of the population, especially towards the weakest and most vulnerable.
In particular, as far as Chile is concerned, the local Caritas has taken action with a "Global Plan of Humanitarian Action", with a time horizon of 9 months (April - December 2020), articulated according to diocesan and sectorial priorities. As part of this plan, the Campaign "No one saves himself. Together we multiply solidarity" (#NadieSeSalvaSolo), based on three priorities: 1) food security, 2) promotion of hygiene and health care, 3) recovery of production systems or livelihoods, aimed primarily at vulnerable families, migrant populations and the elderly.
In addition, explained Mgr. Ossandón, the Church in Chile has made available to the authorities various premises that have been used as health residences, residences for street people, shelters for the homeless, elderly and migrants. Food services were activated and thousands of hygiene, protection and prevention kits were distributed; and a digital network of spiritual and psychosocial accompaniment was set up.
With regard to the migratory situation, Bishop Galo illustrated what the Church has been able to do at different levels: humanitarian assistance in emergencies (providing food and shelter); support for those who had been blocked by the closure of the borders; preparation of modalities so that all the national groups present could carry out quarantine in safe situations; protection of sources of work and workers' rights; accompaniment services in the villas miserias; collection of food and medicines.
Mgr. Izaguirre gave a general reading of the emergency in Peru, speaking in particular of the situations of major crisis: the so-called "informal" workers, left without protection because of the consequences of the pandemic; the poor, who have suffered impacts in economic terms, health and poor nutrition; prisoners, who remained on the margins of general attention.
Mgr. Quispe drew attention to the migrants present in Peru, arguing that help from Juli's prelature was also made possible with the help of the UNHCR; and to the campaign launched by the local Church regarding the provision of respirators and masks to people in poverty.
Bishop Fuertes spoke of what the Peruvian Church has been able to do in the distribution of food baskets to families, as well as spiritual support.
Mgr. Bruno Marie Duffé, Secretary, and Mgr. Segundo Tejado, Undersecretary, as well as the Officials of the Area in charge of health care ministry, took part in the videoconference. Mgr. Duffé stressed the commitment of the Dicastery and the Holy See through the Vatican COVID-19 Commission, established by the Pope, in particular in promoting measures for the protection of life and charitable and solidarity initiatives, and in contributing to the protection of the dignity of persons and the rights of the most vulnerable; in producing ideas and analyses that may be useful to improve the future political, economic and social system. Mgr. Tejado also reiterated how, in this phase of crisis, the Church has the task of enlightening society, the faithful, and in general all people in need, with a word of hope and concrete actions of charity.