A member of Catholic organization Pemuda Katolik distributes a face mask and hand sanitizer to a street seller in front of the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta at the weekend. (Photo courtesy of Pemuda Katolik)
The Indonesian Bishops’ Conference (KWI) has called on Catholics to show solidarity with those most in need amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“Bishops want all Catholics to give support by building movements in solidarity with those most affected by this issue,” Father Anthonio Steven Lalu, executive secretary of the KWI’s commission for social communications, told journalists in Jakarta on March 28.
He said the prelates also want Catholics to continue praying for frontline healthcare workers in their own homes instead of attending prayer gatherings.
“Let us strengthen each other in dealing with this issue,” the priest said.
Muliawan Margadana, coordinator of the Catholic Network Against Covid-19 (JKMC), welcomed the bishops’ call and said that his association of professionals, organizations, universities, hospitals and volunteers was helping by distributing free face masks.
“We plan to distribute more face masks supplied by the government to about 60 Catholic hospitals in Indonesia. And within the next two or three weeks, we will distribute ones gathered by us to more hospitals,” he told UCA News.
He said the JKMC was also offering counseling to medical workers and volunteers since “this situation is stressful.”
Similarly, Vincentius Hargo Mandirahardjo, chairman of the Jakarta-based Association of Indonesian Catholic Intellectuals, said his group has been collecting donations since last week.
“As a Catholic organization, we are called upon to help medical workers in particular. What we collect in donations we can use to buy what they need most, such as personal protective equipment,” he told UCA News.
Another Catholic organization, Pemuda Katolik (PK), distributed more than 1,000 face masks and hand sanitizer packs to mostly street vendors in Jakarta over the weekend.
“This is our support for those who need to be protected,” said Bondan Wicaksono, chairman of PK’s Jakarta chapter, adding that his group will distribute necessities to needy people soon.
Earlier, Jakarta Archdiocese called on parishes to form a team to distribute basic necessities to poor parishioners.
Indonesia has the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in Southeast Asia. As of March 29, Indonesia had 1,285 confirmed cases with 114 deaths, according to the Asean briefing website.