Two prominent members of Sri Lanka’s Anglican Church of Ceylon have warned of a “human catastrophe” in the South Asian nation following public unrest amid a severe economic crisis that could disproportionately affect Christians.
The clerics, the Rt. Rev. Keerthisiri Fernando, presiding bishop of the Anglican Church of Ceylon, and the Rt. Rev. Dushantha Rodrigo, the bishop of Colombo, have called on the government of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to “listen to the cries of the people” and act urgently to address a shortage of fuel and daily power cuts that have “severely hampered the livelihood of our people.”
“The suffering masses who have now run out of patience will continue to agitate and react with anger since there is still no sign of light at the end of this tunnel,” Fernando and Rodrigo said in a joint statement in April.
Sri Lanka has been suffering from an acute foreign exchange crisis for the past two years resulting in food shortages, retail inflation and power cuts that have adversely impacted health services. There is also a shortage of life-saving medicines at hospitals.
Poor Christians in the predominantly Buddhist nation, particularly those who face hostility in their communities because they are converts to their faith, are among the worst victims of the calamity.
Barnabas Aid, a Pennsylvania-based international Christian nonprofit, takes up the plight of destitute Sri Lankans in an April 22 public appeal, “Help Feed Desperate Sri Lankan Christians,” posted on the group’s website.
President Rajapaksa has blamed an unidentified extremist group for violence that erupted in the capital on March 31.
The bishops of the Church of Ceylon criticized this statement as “dangerous,” saying that such accusations “can orchestrate further unrest with communal and religious undertones.”
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