KUCHING, April 5: Churches in Sarawak will face a great financial burden as monthly expenses will no longer be supported by Sunday collections and donations from church members following the enforcement of the Movement Restriction Order (MCO) nationwide to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuching Simon Poh observed, there is a great spiritual vacuum as well as a financial sacrifice that Christians in Sarawak and throughout Malaysia have made for the common good of Malaysia and especially in Sarawak which is predominantly Christian.
“The financial burden is felt even more by smaller church congregations and those in the interior. As the Church is not supported by the state, we will have to find ways to continue to take care of our committed and dedicated employees.
“I have asked that our Catholic parishes continue to give full pay to our catechists, staff and workers as our support to help these families especially during this challenging time,” Poh disclosed in a statement.
He pointed out that the Catholic Welfare Services that runs Home of Peace at Jalan Landeh for the homeless and the St Vincent de Paul Society that provides month aid to poor families, will be in financial deficit without donations from church goers during the 40 days of Lent.
Furthermore, many families with financial obligations, especially breadwinners who are paid daily, would have been unable to work during the MCO.
“We will need to anticipate this temporary financial assistance to help such families get back on their feet,” Poh added.
Expressing the weight he felt in having to make the decision to close churches during MCO and especially during the Holy Week, Poh opined it was indeed a great sacrifice that all the Christian churches in Sarawak have willingly made as part of their contribution to fight Covid-19 for the good of all the people and Sarawak.
“As I began my Mass today, when I looked around me in the large St Joseph’s Cathedral in Kuching that is normally packed with over 1,000 worshippers, I saw only rows and rows of empty pews.
“For the first time in our experience, I realised that Holy Week will be celebrated without a congregation in many empty church buildings. It broke my heart to realise that many of our Christians really longed to be in church to worship during this most Holy Week,” he lamented.
Poh acknowledged that closure of religious places has also been done by other faiths and religions as Covid-19 does not recognise creed, race or social standing.
“As such, everyone must be willing to make sacrifices, which can be painful and costly, and collaborate together for the common good of all humanity in this fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Together we shall overcome Covid-19,” he said. — DayakDaily