As financial crisis strikes Sri Lanka, Catholic charity moves to support priests, religious, and the poor.
The pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has announced a special aid package for priests and religious in Sri Lanka who are suffering the effects of a very serious economic and social crisis.
“The economic situation in the country is very serious,” says Bishop Valence Mendis, Bishop of Kandy and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Chilaw, regarding the terrible situation currently affecting Sri Lanka. “Many people are suffering lack of medicine or food. There are very long queues, miles and miles of people trying to buy fuel, gas, powdered milk, sugar, rice, medicine …” The bishop continues, saying, “A number of people have died in these queues while waiting to buy basic goods. Children have died due to lack of safety at home, with their parents having to be away for so long.”
The local Church is currently unable to cover its own minimum needs, let alone relieve the suffering of all those who come to it for help. “Many people have lost their jobs, and prices have risen. People can afford virtually nothing. Our priests and religious are badly affected by the crisis. Therefore, we would appreciate it if we could receive some mass stipends for the priests, and some financial assistance for the religious congregations at this critical time,” Bishop Mendis writes to ACN. “We need your prayers,” he concludes.
Supporting Sri Lankan priests and religious
This is only one of many requests that the foundation has received from this Asian country. As an immediate response, ACN will fund a total of 19 aid projects, including Mass stipends for priests and support for religious congregations and catechists, through emergency aid programmes.
The total aid package will come to nearly $500,000. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, ACN supported the Church in Sri Lanka with a similar emergency program for various dioceses. Recently, during the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis asked the faithful to listen to the pain of the people of Sri Lanka. The Holy Father united himself to the suffering the nation is experiencing and called on the world not to ignore the pleas of the poor, and to ask for peace in the country.
Sri Lanka is currently enduring a very severe financial crisis, caused by political corruption and economic manipulation, which increased its foreign debt and caused rapid inflation, as well as haphazard regulation policies that have led to lower harvests in the country over the past two years. In addition, the nation faces the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, which eliminated income coming from tourism.
Sri Lanka’s financial crisis has given way to political chaos and popular revolts, demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. On Friday, 15 July, Rajapaksa tendered his resignation from Singapore, where he arrived after having fled the country through the Maldives.