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Church Plays Fundamental Role in Responding to Ebola Crisis, Priest Says


GUINEA, GUEKEDOU : Staff of the 'Doctors without Borders' ('Medecin sans frontieres') medical aid organisation carry the body of a person killed by viral haemorrhagic fever, at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral haemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. AFP PHOTO / SEYLLOU

Catholic News Agency - published on 08/08/14 - updated on 06/07/17

Beyond seeking to cure infected people, the Church is always committed to education, the monsignor added.

“We educate people, we explain in villages the importance of basic hygienic rules, like washing hands, in order to prevent the dissemination of the virus.”

On pastoral education, Msgr. Vitillo said that the Church “supports people in their suffering, showing that there is a God accompanying us in our sufferings, and that the Church has a special way of commemorating the dead, that Jesus has given his life for us, he went beyond death for us, and so there is hope.”

This kind of pastoral education is important because it helps to avoid local customs involving the burial of the dead. These traditions include a vigil and touching the corpse of the deceased, a very dangerous practice when seeking to curtail infectious disease.

Sheahen also noted that burial rites are one difficulty regarding Ebola prevention.

She said that “for many months, people did not believe that Ebola is real, some believed it was something the government had created for some strange purpose for political reasons.”

Now, “people do believe it’s real, but they find it difficult to change some cultural traditions that help to spread the infection.”

“West African culture is very social, they shake hands, they like to socialize, to get together, and whether they are Christians, Muslims or of traditional religions, they also want to be in contact with the body of a dead member of their families before the burial,” Sheahen explained.

“They want to wash the body, touch the body. All of this is very dangerous.”

Reprinted courtesy of Catholic News Agency.

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