Throughout history, the Catholic Church has been serving societies in various fields, mostly in the fields of education and health.
As for the field of education, the Catholic Church took all the time a prominent lead in launching educational institutions in various parts of the world, particularly in Third World countries with the aim of introducing such societies into the realm of knowledge so as to catapult such societies into an era of advanced progress in various walks of life to become self-sufficient thus enrich the world with various forms of cultures. This is evident in launching universities of high-caliber that cater for the novel needs of societies among which is the nascent American University of Madaba in Jordan and Bethlehem University in the Holy Land.
Apart from education, the Catholic Church has all the times been caring for addressing the health needs of the destitute and poverty-stricken worldwide by providing urgently needed medical treatment for the poor and the needy. This is reminiscent of the hospital boat named after Pope Francis that has been delivering medical aid along the Amazon River as rural communities struggle amid Brazil’s devastating diseases including the coronavirus outbreak.
This vessel, that was inaugurated in July 2019, has already done great miracles in the lives of riverside people, by bringing health and hope to them as the medical crew has carried out thousands of medical consultations in the communities along the Amazon River.
The hospital boat is staffed by medical volunteers, crew members, and Franciscan friars. It was founded by the Fraternity of St. Francis of Assisi in the Providence of God, in partnership with their local diocese and the Brazilian government.
In a letter marking the boat’s launch on August 17, 2019 Pope Francis said “Just as Jesus, who appeared walking on water, calmed the storm and strengthened the faith of the disciples, this boat will bring spiritual comfort and calm to the worries of needy men and women, abandoned to their fate.”
Among the Catholic Church’s recent outstanding achievements in the field of healthcare is the launching of the “Open Hospitals in Syria” project whereby the Pope reflected on the ongoing suffering of the Syrian people after 12 years of violent conflict, and upheld the commitment and the healthcare offered to all Syrians in need by this Catholic-run project.
Actually the crisis in Syria is one of the most serious worldwide in terms of destruction, growing humanitarian needs, social, unemployment, spiking prices of all commodities, economic collapse, poverty, famine, and hopelessness at all levels.
In the wake of such exorbitant suffering of the Syrian people, the Church has rushed to serve as a ‘field hospital’ designed to heal needy Syrians who suffer from both physical and spiritual ailments.
In his address to members of the Avsi Foundation for the “Open Hospitals” project in Syria, the Pope said, “From the time of the Apostles, the Church has remained faithful to the mandate she has received from Jesus, namely ‘Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You have received without payment; give without payment’.” (Matthew 10:8)
The Pope pointed out that the “Open Hospitals” project is committed to supporting the three Catholic hospitals that have operated in Syria for a 100 years. He added that this initiative came about with the patronage of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and is supported by the generosity of Church-related institutions, namely the Papal Foundation and several Bishops’ Conferences, and some government agencies– Hungarian and Italian–Catholic humanitarian institutions, and a number of generous individuals.
Pope Francis draws an analogy of what is referred to as “field hospital” and the words of the Holy Bible: “That evening, at sundown, they brought to Jesus all who were sick and possessed with demons. The whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases.” (Mark 1:32-34; cf. Luke 4:40)
The “Open Hospitals “project is designed to help the sick and poor, without distinction of ethnic or religious affiliation because this is the noble and divine message of Christianity. It goes in line with the teaching of Lord Jesus’ Beatitudes which say, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy, blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God, and blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.
The Catholic Church has all the time shone rays of mercy and purity at heart worldwide with efforts to entrench peace in the world, thus acquiring divine blessings that will definitely help her continue the mission of love, mercy, and common living.
By Munir Bayouk/ en.abouna.org