Friday, January 25, 2008

Emergency fund for those in need

The Church must be involved in the people’s struggles

One of the greatest problem Malaysians face today is financial woes. With the escalating cost of living the ordinary worker is under tremendous stress to make ends meet. Catering for the needs of a family is becoming more and more difficult by the day. Even basic needs like housing, education and healthcare have become beyond the means of a vast the majority of wage earners.

The government to a great extent has abdicated its responsibilities to provide these basic needs by its privatization policies. Rampant corruption, abuse of power and non-accountability at all levels of the government machinery have contributed to this unhealthy situation where the rich are getting richer and the poor get poorer.

Obtaining quality health care in particular has become a great burden for the people. Emergency medical treatment can run into thousands which few can afford. Instead of providing an affordable quality health care, the government has embarked on a national health insurance scheme which would only deny the poor access to prompt treatment even in dire emergencies.

Of late we are witnessing our own Catholics being caught in such desperate situations where they are unable to obtain adequate and prompt medical treatment due to financial constraints. We have those with major traumatic injuries needing proper care which they can never obtain. There are those awaiting major surgery, dialysis and other costly medical treatment that never come their way. It is pitiful that some of them die while waiting for such definitive treatment.

They are desperate and have no one to turn to for help, not even the church, where they have been active workers for many years. No one, including the parish priest and the Church organisations,come forward to offer a helping hand. Many are willing to offer prayers but few are in positions to offer financial and moral support.

The lame excuse often given is that the Church cannot help as it is afraid that such generous deeds may act as a precedent for abuses by others in the future. The Church encourages others to help but itself not willing to do anything. Is it morally right to withhold help to save a life for fear of the unknown future?

The Church is in a position to offer aid, both financial and moral, to those in need, at least her own parishioners. I am sure setting up of an emergency fund at parish level will not pose much a problem as the Catholic Church, with its large number of generous faithful, has the wealth and expertise to do so. What is really needed is the will to help which is sadly missing.

The Church collects money for so many reasons, I am sure helping the parishioners in need would be a worthy cause which would get the whole-hearted support of the people. When a medical tragedy suddenly strikes, the whole family is thrown into chaos. Financial constraints make the effects of the tragedy even worse. A little help will go a long way to ease the burden of those inflicted with such serious ailments and allow them to get back to normal as soon as possible.

It is rather sad that the Church is not taking seriously the problems of the people. It is not taking pains to understand and appreciate their plight. It cannot and should not alienate itself from the struggles of the people; rather it must get involved in them if it wants to remain relevant in their lives which have become so challenging in the modern world.

Dr.Chris Anthony

1 comment:

Dr.Chris Anthony said...

Dr. Christopher,

Thank you for your article. Unfortunately, i don't think you are accurate in the numerous assumptions you have made in your article about the church ignoring the plight of those in financial trouble. It is evident from your article that you are not completely aware of the various channels by which the church has extended its hand to the poor and continues to do so. I am afraid judging the scope of the churches' response to the poor within the limited confines of your own reality only highlights how uninformed you are about the daily efforts being extended by the various Catholic organisations and individuals to numerous people in the country.

Also do bear in mind, that when you refer to the church, lets not confine it to the structural church or over-extended departments of the official church. In the post Vatican II era, we are called to define church simply put it - you and me. As such, the wiser question to ask is...what are you doing about the poor?

Thh church (all definitions included) IS involved is the people's struggle. Its a question of whether you are aware of it or not.

with regards,

Hi Joachim

Thanks for your prompt response.

Don't be mistaken that I am accusing you or anybody of not doing anything to help the poor.I'm sorry if I gave you that impression.You and the POHD are doing a fantastic job,no doubt about that.

I think we need a more open system where criticisms and dissenting views are better tolerated and appreciated.

I fully agree with you that we should ask ourselves what we are doing for the poor.Every other person we see is "poor" in some way,what are we doing about that?

Thank you

Yours in Christ


Dr. Christopher,

Thank you for your reply. Well it is really not about POHD for it is my view that what we are doing is a small drop in the ocean of charity efforts being furthered through so many good people in both small and big ways. While it may have not been your intention to accuse the church or anybody of doing nothing, it certainly came across as that - mainly because the comments in the article addressed the church very broadly. Perhaps your article was motivated by a specific disappointments (in the parish or with some catholic organisation) which did not meet your expectation of service. If this is so then it is best that the comments be limited to that particular event.

Having said that Dr., being in the diocese i know for sure that no church or charity organisation (including POHD) will ever be able to do enough to deal with the numerous and often overwhelming plight of the poor and marginalised. Didn't Jesus say..."the poor will always be with you". But Catholics are called to mission to the poor anyway for we are requited to be faithful to the mission rather that successful in the mission. And in knowing that we will never to do enough, we are humbled to accept our limitations, reminded to trust in the Almighty and most importantly to remain faithful in the work he has entrusted every Catholic to.

Why am i sharing this with you? If indeed there are those who have not able to meet your expectations of reaching out to the poor...go easy on them. I learned this the hard way and have come to see that people are just at different levels of the mission and some will do more an some will do less (inhuman terms) but all of it is acceptable to our dear Father who does not judge the quantity of service rendered but the love that was poured out into it.

Lastly, for your information, there exist already an emergency fund in the Diocese. Its called the Lenten Campaign Fund. Everyday, many Catholics and non-Christians drop by our office either to make an application for funds or are collecting funds that have been allocated for them. We also receive applications from parishes via the PHDC. If you had attended the Lenten Campaign meeting in 2007 and the 2008 (just concluded), you would have known about it. But we missed your presence or anyone from the NBVM PHDC for all our PHDC meetings/formations/seminars for the last 2 years straight. By the way, the Lenten Campaign is also mentioned prominently in the PHDC constitution of every parish.

with best regards,