Vatican sends masks to China for pneumonia fight

By Shan Jie and Zhao Yusha Published: 2020/2/3 2:48:28

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski (left) and Vincenzo Han Duo (right) stand by donated masks in the Vatican Pharmacy on Saturday. Photo: Courtesy of Vincenzo Han Duo

Han pushes a trolley of masks at Rome Fiumicino International Airport on Saturday. Photo: Courtesy of Vincenzo Han Duo

Masks from the Vatican Photo: Courtesy of Vincenzo Han Duo

Masks from the Vatican have been shipped to China and distributed to regions suffering the novel coronavirus as an expression of the Holy See's concern about the epidemic.

The Holy See press office confirmed with the Global Times on Monday in an email that the masks were sent from the Vatican to China to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. 

About 600,000-700,000 masks have been sent to China from the Vatican since January 27, through the support of the Vatican Pharmacy and Chinese Christian communities in Italy, Vincenzo Han Duo, vice rector of The Pontifical Urban College in the Vatican, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Han, who is in charge of the mask donation, said Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, expressed his wish to help China confront the virus after Han told him about the situation in China.

The Holy See and local Chinese Christian groups paid for the masks collected by the Vatican Pharmacy throughout Italy.

"Shipping in Italy is usually slow, so the Vatican Pharmacy used its own vehicles to send the masks to Rome directly," Han said.

In the first day, they managed to collect more than 100,000 masks.

Airline companies including China Southern Airlines are providing free shipment.

After arriving in China, the masks have been sent to Central China's Hubei Province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, and East China's Zhejiang and Fujian provinces.

"I hope the supplies could reach where they are needed as soon as possible, so that people who are suffering the disease could feel the concern of the Holy See. The whole world is standing together to fight the virus," said Han.

"May the Lord welcome the deceased in his peace, comfort families and support the great commitment of the Chinese community, already put in place to fight the epidemic," Pope Francis said in his Angelus address on January 26, according to the Catholic Herald.

In September 2018, China and the Vatican signed a landmark deal on the appointment of bishops, a thorny issue that caused decades of tension between the two sides. 

China ordained its first bishop in August 2019 since signing the deal.

With the improvement in China-Vatican relations, the two sides have been engaged in activities to help get to know and understand each other, and to find more common ground for their shared missions, such as fighting organ trafficking and promoting ecological protection.


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