India: Church Provides Care for the Body as Well as the Soul During Outbreak

Source: FSSPX News

Procession after Mass in the priory of Palayamkottai.

India has the highest number of cases of tuberculosis in the world: according to the WHO, in 2015, the country had 2.8 million cases, compared to 2.2 million in 2011. The Church is on the front lines of the battle against this illness that is responsible for several hundreds of thousands of deaths every year.

The fight against tuberculosis is led by a Catholic Action movement, the Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI), directed by a Redemptorist, with the collaboration of government agencies and other civil organizations.

Fr. Matthew Abraham, who once worked as a doctor, is at the head of this association, trying to contain this sickness that is still a true plague in India: more than 50 people die every hour of tuberculosis.

The Catholic Health Association of India is formed by doctors and healthcare professionals working in Catholic hospitals and health centers run by the dioceses. 

The association is part of a wider network linked to the Indian Bishops' Conference of India, which includes 500 hospitals, over 2,000 primary care facilities, and more than 200 organizations involved in social services.

Over the past four years, the CHAI has focused on strengthening the national tuberculosis control program through advocacy, communication, and social mobilization, explains Fr. Abraham. This control program, promoted by the Indian government, provides free TB diagnosis to more than 1.5 million patients every year.

A proof of this Catholic organization’s vitality: the CHAI project activities provide district-level assistance covering 96 districts in 10 states of India – Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Nagaland.

In May, a study published by the scientific journal "The Lancet" explained that despite the socio-economic development of the country, India has failed to achieve the expected health targets and the general situation has deteriorated over the past 25 years.

The beneficial action of the Catholic Church among these people is an undeniable fact. This is something the supporters of the “Hindutva”, or a return to a pure and radical form of Hinduism, who ever since the recent victory of their party, the BJP, have made the eradication of Christianity one of their priorities, seem to forget.

The Society of St. Pius X has been in India since 1987. In Palayamkottai, in Tamil Nadu, the priory administers the sacraments and all the means of sanctification as the Church has always done. In this country where paganism and infidelity are very widespread, it is important to protect the Faith from the relativism encouraged by interreligious dialogue, and to help the faithful to live as Christians with the help of the true religion and the grace of God.

In the year 2000, an orphanage for children and a nursing home for the elderly was founded, and today they are run by the Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart, a religious community from Italy. In addition, the Reparation Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary were founded in Tuticorin in 2013. Thus, not only are sick bodies nursed and abandoned souls cared for, but there is also room for the missionary development of the Church and for religious life to blossom, after the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ.