Callista L. Gingrich
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See
The U.S. Government is leading the world’s humanitarian and health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have committed an additional $508 million in emergency health, humanitarian, and economic assistance.
On April 11, President Donald J. Trump authorized a robust assistance package for Italy, including $50 million in economic assistance implemented by USAID to bolster Italy’s COVID-19 response. Part of these funds will be used to support faith-based organizations already responding to the pandemic in Italy.
Italy has been at the forefront of the fight against the spread of COVID-19. The United States commends Italy’s transparency and heroic and sustained efforts to contain the virus and help victims recover. The effects of the pandemic on Italy and the Catholic Church have been particularly damaging. To date, more than 110 priests in Italy have died from COVID-19 while carrying out their ministry helping others.
Despite these harrowing losses, Catholic and other faith-based organizations have continued their life-saving work on the frontlines in Italy. Since March 14, Samaritan’s Purse, a U.S. faith-based charity, has operated a 68-bed emergency field hospital in Cremona, Italy, where the medical infrastructure has been overwhelmed by COVID-19. More than 60 American disaster response specialists, including doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel, have risked their personal health to assist over 200 Italian patients.
Faith-based organizations are defined and inspired by an abiding sense of purpose and dedication to help those most in need. They serve as lifelines for communities experiencing unprecedented hardships and are advocates for the oppressed. The private and religious nature of these organizations enables them to engage in ways governments cannot. Historically, the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See has partnered with the Vatican to champion the role of faith-based organizations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has infected more than two million people and taken the lives of over 165,000 around the world. Working together, across governments, faith-based organizations, NGOs, and the private sector, we will eradicate the spread of COVID-19.