Argentina’s president asks priests for help with COVID-19

Argentina’s president has asked priests to help the national government flatten the curve of coronavirus in slum areas.

Aregentina has 4,500 shanty towns and illegal settlements.

Seven priests – including Bishop Gustavo Carrara – who live and minister in the slums of Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, met with President Alberto Fernandez last week.

The priests’ suggestions helped broaden understanding of the reality of those who live in the slums and what isolation would be like for them.

The filmed a video with Fernandez in the background, where they urged all people to stay home, including those in the country’s slums.

“In the slums it is also possible to be in quarantine. We know that the neighbors sometimes have little space. If you see someone in the streets who needs help to isolate themselves, let us know.

“Let there be no grandparents in the streets, bring them to our parishes,” the priests say in a video shared by Fernandez on Twitter.

“The parishes in the slums are open for whatever is necessary.”

The priests and the president then prayed the Our Father.

The Holy Father, Poipe Francis, asked all Christians to do so last Wednesday to ask for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting took place in the president’s house, as he is in semi-isolation because he’s over 60. In Argentina this is considered an at-risk age for COVID-19 patients.

Fernandez brought the priests together because they have first-hand knowledge of the situation in the slums and have a sense of the general mood of the population.

They can also help keep people calm if the quarantine continues much longer.

An estimated seven percent of the population of Buenos Aires live in one of several shantytowns.

“We told the president that social peace has a lot to do with the help that is given,” said one priest after the meeting.

“The president showed knowledge of the situation and assured us that more help is coming.”

To help protect those most at risk, most of the 40 priests who live in the slums are setting up cots in their parish grounds so the elderly don’t have to live on the streets. Schools are being re-purposed so homeless people and drug addicts can be cared for.

“If people are starving, they are going to go out and work,” another priest said. “Even if this means placing themselves and others in danger.”

“In our neighborhoods, the social issues are above health, even if they go hand in hand,” he added. “If the social issue is not resolved, we won’t be able to take care of the health of our neighbors.”

Di Paola said rather than ask people to stay home in their almost unbearable homes, people should be to “stay in the neighborhood.”

“They can take time out for walks but avoid social gatherings.”


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