Parish sells masks to help retired bishops, priests, imams

A student wears a protective mask in a classroom at a school in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, May 25, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (CNS photo/Luc Gnago, Reuters)

By Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Raising money by selling white cloth face masks, a parish in the Ivory Coast has begun a project to provide food and other necessities to retired bishops, priests, ministers and imams.

“We must not and cannot abandon old priests who gave a lot, emeritus bishops who did a lot,” said Father Eric Norbert Abekan, pastor of the Holy Family parish in the Riviera neighborhood of Abidjan.

Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said the parish’s “White Masks” project launched May 30 “to offer support to vulnerable people and in particular to emeritus bishops, retired priests, pastors and imams, as well as elders, widows and orphans who live in serious precarious situations, aggravated by the social and economic lockdown imposed to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“In concrete terms, the movement offers food donations and non-food basic necessities to these people,” the priest said.

About 42 percent of Ivory Coast’s population is Muslim, while Christians account for about 34 percent of the population.

Father Abekan said the parish hopes the “White Masks” will not be a temporary initiative but will continue. “What we want to do with the people who are helping us with the ‘White Masks’ is to make the gestures of generosity carried out during the COVID-19 crisis continue substantially throughout life.”

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