HomeCommentaryHealthcare and social protection for all

Healthcare and social protection for all

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle is correct in saying that governments should do everything within their power to ensure adequate healthcare and social protection for all amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic is making the suffering of vulnerable people — migrants and refugees, the elderly, the sick, the poor and unemployed — even deeper,” he said.

“We urge our governments to ensure access to healthcare and social protection for everyone — particularly the most vulnerable,” Cardinal Tagle pointed out in his Easter message.

“In the midst of loss, uncertainty and suffering, something incredible is happening: We are noticing the bonds which form our human family. Bonds that we previously took for granted or ignored,” he said.

“As we live in isolation and we all become marginalized and vulnerable, the global suffering we are seeing has made it startlingly apparent to us that we need other people and other people need us too.”

The church leader emphasized that world leaders should rise to the challenge and promote unity and shared responsibility in facing the gravest threat to humanity at this time.

Cardinal Tagle is prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and concurrent president of Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organization that coordinates 165 local Catholic charities throughout the globe.

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The prelate expressed his gratitude to all the Caritas staff and volunteers who have been working hand-in-hand in a coordinated global effort to help the sick and the vulnerable affected by the pandemic.

“In the darkness of this crisis, the light of Christ will shine. Jesus is truly risen! He will not die again. May Jesus rise for people around the world through our love!” he said.

“This love, seen in small and large gestures of hope and solidarity, is calling us to a new future and a new way of living. COVID-19 knows no borders but neither do faith, hope and love,” he concluded.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, calls on world leaders to promote unity and shared responsibility in facing the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

Such small and large gestures of hope and solidarity as enunciated by Cardinal Tagle are well in evidence in the Philippines, where the Church is actively helping address the needs of the poor and vulnerable sectors of the population.

Take, for instance, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Quezon City that’s located near several government hospitals in the national capital region. When a few front-liners knocked on their doors to ask for help, the church didn’t think twice and warmly welcomed them.

The parish has converted rooms in the church into temporary quarters for health workers from nearby government hospitals: The East Avenue Medical Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Heart Center, and Lung Center of the Philippines.

The front-liners asked for help because they not only faced discrimination in their communities, but also logistical problems in going to work because of the suspension of public transport in the city during the emergency.

Over in the southern island of Mindanao, Bishop Raul Dael of the Diocese of Tandag is doing his part in addressing health concerns and the economic and social problems caused by COVID-19.

Amid the lockdown ordered by the national government to control the spread of the deadly virus, the bishop, accompanied by some priests, nuns, seminarians, and lay people, recently visited the city’s front-liners in road checkpoints, hospitals and government offices. He prayed and blessed them and gave them food packs.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Quezon City in the Philippine capital has turned the basement of the church into temporary quarters for health workers in nearby hospitals. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

The prelate believes that if people will help each other, then the community can stand firm and overcome all obstacles.

“What will destroy a community is selfishness,” said Bishop Dael in a homily at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Cathedral.

“There is no more spirit of community if people turn selfish,” he said. “What builds up a community of God is the spirit of communion.”

The prelate stressed that the purpose of church rituals is “to lead us to action …. If we look at the spirit of the Eucharist, no hunger will happen in our communities,” he said.

“There is hunger in the world not because we lack resources but because we lack generosity.”

A timely and relevant message for us as we grapple with a crisis that threatens humanity as a whole. 

Ernesto M. Hilario writes on political and social justice issues for various publications in the Philippines. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of LiCAS.news.

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