The Catholic Church in India is being overwhelmed by the coronavirus. According to an article by Aid to the Church in Need, “The deadly pandemic has claimed the lives of several bishops, dozens of priests and nuns and hundreds of lay people in a country that is reporting more than half of the 800,000 new daily COVID cases worldwide.” It is difficult to get a handle on India’s total deaths from COVID because of allegations of undercounting. The official death toll is 311,000, but unofficial estimates range to as many as 1.6 to 4.2 million. The daily death rate is 4,530, the highest in the world.
Non-Christian hospital staff are refusing to work in COVID wards, so the country’s 500 Catholic hospitals are relying on volunteers to serve patients food and water and provide comfort to those who cannot be visited by family. Fr. George Manimala, pastor of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Health in the Delhi Archdiocese, says, “We are passing through unimaginable suffering. We have had more than two dozen funerals of parish members since Easter. Whatever the risk, we must take care of the pastoral needs of the people. Half of our 600 families have been hit by COVID.”
Sr. Juliana D’Cunha, administrator of the Kurji Holy Family Hospital in Patna, said, “It has been an awful time for us. Lack of regular oxygen supply was the worst we had to face. … In most cases, the patients had not been tested and they took it to be a simple flu. By the time they were brought in, their lungs had been damaged with little chance of recovery.” The lack of oxygen has been responsible for many COVID deaths in India.
Fr. Santhosh Royan leads a ministry dedicated to burying the dead in the Archdiocese of Bangalore. “Our volunteers have so far facilitated the burial and cremations of more than 800 people, 300 of them Catholics, picking up dead bodies even from homes,” Fr. Royan told Aid to the Church in Need.
Sr. Denin David works at the Jesus Mary Joseph (JMJ) hospital in Guntar. “The government has entrusted us with the task of caring also for children of parents undergoing COVID treatment,” Sr. David explained. Sister says they can only admit 125 patients at a time to their hospital, but those infected keep coming to the hospital and are turned away. She lamented, “I have never seen human suffering like this.”
If you can help, consider a donation to Aid to the Church in Need. You can find the website on the link to the article above.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.