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Pope sends pandemic relief to Vietnam


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - published on 08/31/21

Bishop Segundo Tejado Muñoz explains why the Vatican sent money to Vietnam and how the funds are being used.

On August 24, Pope Francis donated 100,000 euros to Vietnam to help the country fight against the pandemic and its consequences. This important financial gesture—made through the Dicastery for the service of integral human development—shows the constant interest of the pope to participate in global humanitarian efforts.

I.Media interviewed the Undersecretary of the Dicastery, Bishop Segundo Tejado Muñoz, to understand how Vatican funds are being used there.

Why does the pope decide to release money for a particular country?

We normally receive requests from local Churches. It is therefore the local Church that decides where these funds go. As far as Vietnam is concerned, the Church there told us that the situation was very difficult and that it is working, with its means, to help people.

The Church in Vietnam sent us a small project. We always rely on the local Church to carry out this type of intervention. Vietnamese officials will send us a report on how the money was spent.

This help from the pope is encouraging, but the help of the global Church has an even greater impact.

That is to say ?

This money sent by the pope is a sign. The work of the Church is very important: Caritas, local dioceses, Catholic organizations, people who are helping at this time.

We are part of a huge world. Today, for example, with the earthquake in Haiti, there are a large number of people mobilizing to go and help dioceses, parishes, religious congregations and Catholic-inspired NGOs. The Church moves with the pope. He gives a sign to encourage the faithful to go. But Church’s aid does not stop with Vietnam or Haiti or any other emergency.

We hardly ever stop; there are so many plagues in the world that are constantly popping up. The pope always has this sensitivity: wherever one of these plagues appears, he goes and puts some of his healing balm (Lk 10:34), to encourage the Church to go and help all our brothers in need.

How are these funds then used locally?

This help from the Holy Father goes to the structures of the Church, but we also often help the civil structures which are trying to deal with this pandemic. The interventions we have made consist of providing protective equipment to nurses and doctors or helping to buy equipment. Some things, such as respirators, can be found locally.

But it’s up to the local church to distribute or buy the materials. It also depends on the region. In some places the Church may not have sanitation facilities. In this case, The local Church dialogues with civil authorities. There are so many factors at play.

The Church in Vietnam is very active and very effective. They have great activity and great vitality, and I believe they will certainly find the best possible way to use the funds. In Vietnam, there are only a few small health structures which are very well established in the region. It is a very popular Church which has few large structures but which is fully engaged in the life of society.

Why did the pope decide to send funds rather than sending medical supplies or respirators directly, as he has done in the past?

Sometimes shipping medical equipment costs more than the equipment itself. If the pope receives donated respirators, he sends them, but sometimes it’s better to send money, as it supports the local economy. In the case of Vietnam, the pope wanted to send money because sending material to Vietnam comes at a significant cost.

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