Updated: April 29, 2020 09:02 AM GMT
Archbishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva, watched by Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak (right) and the Covid-19 Pastoral Support Team, speaks to media after their meeting in Dili on April 28. (Photo: Thomas Ora/UCA News)
Dili Archdiocese in Timor-Leste has ramped up efforts to reach out to residents affected by the coronavirus pandemic by forming a special pastoral task force.The formation of the team came after the government extended emergency social distancing restrictions for another 30 days.
Archbishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva revealed the formation of the Covid-19 Pastoral Support Team during a meeting with Prime Minister José Maria Vasconcelos, popularly known by his nom de guerre Taur Matan Ruak, on April 28.In an hour-long meeting, the prime minister gave his full support for the move and called on the Church to continue to provide spiritual, psychological and material assistance to the poor directly affected by the pandemic."The initiative was taken as a response to the calls of the Integrated Crisis Management Center Covid-19 for cooperation and support for those who are quarantined or in isolation," Archbishop Da Silva told reporters after the meeting.The government has extended the state of emergency from April 28 to May 27.
Archbishop Da Silva said the pastoral team of priests and members of religious orders will work with Caritas in providing spiritual and material aid for poor families subjected to quarantines and lockdowns.The prelate said it would also redirect funds donated by the Korean Church for a new nunciature to help in the fight against the pandemic."The funds will be used to buy basic food supplies for poor families," Archbishop Da Silva was quoted as saying on the diocese's website.The prelate said the church was committed to supporting the government following a spike in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases since the first case was discovered on March 21.
Meanwhile, Canossian Sister Guilhermina Marcal said many people are not social distancing and not wearing masks."I’m sewing masks and encouraging people to wear them. Every day we produce 50 masks," Sister Marcal told UCA News. "We have distributed more than 1,000 to people … including reporters."
As of April 28, Timor-Leste had recorded 24 confirmed Covid-19 cases but no deaths.