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Catholic Church in India goes to peripheries to help poor during COVID-19 pandemic

By early July 2020, the total number of recorded COVID-19 cases in India has surpassed 740,000, exacerbating an already challenging situation, especially for those living in abject poverty. 

That's why the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), a New York-based papal agency has been working in India with the country's Catholic dioceses to carry out humanitarian and pastoral projects.

Regional Director for India, CNEWA
“I admire the bishop, Mar Barnabas, the Malankara Catholic bishop in Delhi. Personally, he is distributing food packages, in the streets and slums of Delhi. He is a real missionary, not only in [the] pandemic. He knows the souls of the poor and the mission of the Church.”

Malankara Catholic Diocese of Gurgaon (Delhi)
“No religion or political parties are interested in these people. People are eagerly waiting for a savior who will redeem them. The challenge is to go to such places, and identify with them, live with them and tell them that there is a Lord who cares for them.”

The bishop explains that there are missions in 13 states. Throughout the health emergency, they, with the help of the CNEWA, have been distributing food and hygiene packages to people living in the streets and in more remote areas that are difficult to reach.

Regional Director for India, CNEWA
“You will find hundreds of Catholic priests, religious sisters and bishops come out in solidarity with the poor. There is no religion, caste or creed. The pandemic brought out a need for physical distancing, for safety, but it cannot defeat the sense of charity.”

The CNEWA hopes to further augment the aid it has been providing to those in the peripheries before and during the pandemic. In addition to India, the organization holds a presence in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Northeast Africa.