Bregenz, 30/12/2020. On 31/12/2020, Priest Edwin Matt leaves the board of trustees of plan:g – the Partnership for Global Health. Priest Matt has been dedicated to promoting health in a unified world since 2011. With concern – but also with joy about what has been achieved and with some hope – Priest Matt has a view of the global work of the Catholic Church in the health sector.
The way society and church deal with it, causes Priest Matt even more concern than the current COVID-19 pandemic itself . Both in Austria and in the partner countries with which there is development cooperation, the Corona crisis has fostered racism and social exclusion. “In the spring people from Asia were particularly affected in Austria. Now people from our southern neighbouring countries are being defamed, there is always a search for the guilty and scapegoats. And we ourselves like to slip into a comfortable, passive victim's role.”
Self-critical, with reference to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò or Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, Matt addresses the role of the church within this context: “Just as for parts of society as a whole, it is also difficult for parts of our church to collect scientific evidence and draw conclusions from it.” In this, Priest Matt references necessary information on COVID-19, other infectious diseases such as malaria, the so-called “Gender criticism” and juxtapositions in the understanding of the mission: “Equilibrium in such debates does not mean letting sense and nonsense having equal value.” What we need much more are debates with the courage to change. Debates with no fear of complexity, which shed light with specialist expertise.
Priest Matt says: “Being leprous” or “being made a leper” is apparent even today in many faces and behaviours. The continuing development into a “Partnership for Global Health” requires our decisive advocacy and espousal of the main message of Jesus.”
After nearly 10 years of dedication to plan:g and against the backdrop of the pandemic, it is time for a new beginning, both for him personally and for plan:g. “Now, in the midst of the Corona pandemic, I would like to pave the way for an even stronger specialist expertise with my departure from the board of trustees. Because mercy is not charitableness, but the consistent understanding of poverty and illness, to overcome their causes. It's not just about amity with the poor and ill, but about a change in the church and the world, that opens up space for further development.”
Edwin Matt sees the consistent human rights orientation of plan:g as the central success of recent years. plan:g has changed charity into solidarity. However, we must continue to work with even more specialist expertise. “If we as a church wish to be a healing entity, we must take the synodal path seriously, take seriously a new role of the clergy, take seriously scientific evidence as well as the problems in the world, the health of plants, animals and human beings, which are so closely interlinked – Creation being so endangered.”
Therefore, Priest Matt heartily requests that the supporters of plan:g, the amicable facilities at home and abroad, as well as church actors, to continue to generously support plan:g in a constructive and critical manner.