By Vatican News staff writer
The Catholic bishops of Slovakia have announced a charity collection for the people of Cuba, where socio-economic challenges, made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic, have made for difficult living conditions.
The initiative, conceived by Slovakia’s bishops and inspired by Pope Francis’s recently-concluded Apostolic Visit to the country (12 – 15 September), is intended to draw attention to the plight of the brothers and sisters in Cuba who are in difficulty but who remain neglected.
In a statement on the website of the Bishops Conference of Slovakia, the bishops encourage the Slovak faithful to give generously during the collection, which will be taken up on Sunday, 26 September, in parishes across the country.
The Bishops note Pope Francis’ repeated calls to help our brothers and sisters in need, adding that the aim is “to share as others have shared with us in the past when we needed it.”
The economy in Cuba has seen a severe decline in recent times, and existing inequalities have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
In July, in the country’s largest anti-government demonstrations in decades, Cubans took the streets to protest poor living conditions and the lack of basic amenities, including healthcare amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prior to the protests, the Covid-19 health emergency had dealt a huge blow to the country’s main source of revenue – tourism – which came to a halt as a result of travel restrictions. On top of that, widespread food and medicine shortages, as well as growing inflation, were already a source of dissatisfaction among Cuban citizens.
With the arrival of the delta variant, Cuba faced a further explosion of coronavirus cases, putting further pressure on the country’s already strained health system. Cuba has recorded about 790,000 coronavirus cases with over 6,000 deaths throughout the pandemic. Currently, over 15 million vaccine doses have been administered so far in efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19
Last week, Cuba, using its own homegrown vaccines, began vaccinating children as young as 2, becoming one of the first nations to do so.