ASIA/THAILAND - The Catholic community of Bangkok close to the poorest, affected by the pandemic: "Whoever wants can leave, whoever wants can take"

Tuesday, 26 May 2020 coronavirus   solidarity   charity   local churches   poverty  

Chiang Mai (Agenzia Fides) - Many parishes of the Archdiocese of Bangkok, Thailand, are at the forefront in helping and assisting the poor, severely affected by the social and economic effects of the pandemic. The Church dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima, in Din Deng area, Bangkok, has activated a special service for the distribution of food. "Whoever wants to donate for others, can bring food aid, while who needs it can take it freely", explains Father Daniele Mazza, PIME missionary in Bangkok, to Fides. "The government is giving aid such as rice and small amounts of money to needy families, but the needs are many. As a church, we are trying to offer support for the livelihood of poor families", he said.
As the priest reports, a group of young people from the parish has prepared and started this initiative, which goes in the authentic spirit of charity and sharing, because it gives anyone the opportunity to donate, and at the same time offers anyone the possibility of taking food at any time. The room intended for this service is located in front of the Church and is open to anyone, regardless of their religion or faith.
In Thailand, the spread of Covid-19 is not as serious as in other countries. However, the social and economic effects are equally felt: "Given the lockdown of tourism, many people are unemployed and for large sectors of the population the situation is worrying", says Father Mazza.
In observance of the norms established by the government, the Thai Church had to suspend all masses and other public religious activities for a certain period. "We continued to celebrate live streaming and other prayers such as the rosary and the Via crucis. Every Sunday we also have a rosary with the English-speaking community through Zoom, where about 40-50 families participate", says the missionary.
"We will have to be careful, for some time, with every gathering. I think this experience has taught us how we feel far from the Eucharist and has increased the thirst for the sacraments", says Father Mazza, highlighting that "the pandemic teaches us not to take anything for granted, to find time for the Lord and to pray together as a family".
The Catholic community represents 0.58% of the Thai population, with about 390 thousand faithful and 524 churches, 436 parishes and 662 priests, according to data provided to Fides by the Social Communications Office of the Thai Church. The country has a population of 69 million, mostly Buddhists. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 26/5/2020)