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World News

Church in Sri Lanka struggling to pay its priests

by Premier Journalist

The Church in Sri Lanka is in dire financial need, impeding priests in their pastoral efforts, according to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Sri Lanka is in the grip of a severe financial crisis caused by the rising price of importing crucial goods, mounting debt and a fall in the price of the Sri Lankan rupee against the US dollar.

This is causing huge food and medicine queues, with reports of people dying in queues while awaiting help.

ACN has issued more than £390,000 in vital support for priests and religious workers, thanks to the generosity of its supporters.

But much more help is needed, according to Bishop Valence Mendis of Kandy, who is also Apostolic Administrator of Chilaw, in Sir Lanka’s north western province.

He said: “People can afford virtually nothing. Our priests and religious are badly affected by the crisis.

“The economic situation in the country is very serious. 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…

“A number of people have died in these queues while waiting to buy basic goods. Many people have lost their jobs, and prices have risen astronomically.”

Food prices are now 80 percent higher than this time last year, ACN said. Sri Lanka’s financial crisis has also been deepened by corruption, lack of fuel, and the loss of tourist income caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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