The deadly flooding in Germany has left a trail of devastation with some 160 people killed, more than 170 missing and thousands of homes flooded. The disaster also hit other countries including Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Luxembourg as floodwater and mudslides leveled homes and buildings. The devastation and loss of lives have triggered shock and sympathy from across the globe including from Catholics in Asia and other parts of the world.
An emotional call for prayer and solidarity
Pope Francis offered prayers and expressed his closeness with the flood victims of Germany. Such an emotional call for prayer and solidarity with flood-hit Germans has not resonated strongly in Asian churches, most of whom are regular beneficiaries of charitable funding from the German Church and church-based donor agencies.
German Catholic Church, one of the richest in the world, is well known globally for charity and philanthropy, particularly helping the Churches in Asia. German Church’s income has been declining in recent years as the number of churchgoers and practicing Catholics drop in Germany as well as it is across Europe. A record 272,771 people left the Catholic Church in Germany in 2019, affecting its resources negatively. But the trend is opposite in Asia and Africa, where Churches continue to experience growth.
Yet the German Church and its donor agencies, including Caritas Germany, Misereor, Missio Aachen, Missio Munich, Renovabis, Aveniat, Pontifical Mission Societies Germany and Aid to the Church in Need, funnel millions of dollars to relatively poorer churches in Asia, Africa and Latin America every year.
Generosity in prayer and empathy
Now it is time for Asian churches to stand in solidarity with beleaguered German brethren who are still reeling from a deadly natural calamity It would be extremely challenging for minority Asian churches to carry out their pastoral necessities without funding from generous Germans. Even if they cannot financially help the Germans, they can be generous in expressing solidarity with the Europeans in their distress, by offering prayers and empathy.
Most churches in Asia are minority except for those in the Philippines and Timor-Leste. It will take many years before they become self-reliant. However, some dioceses in countries such as South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan require no foreign donations. Some of them, such as Seoul Archdiocese in South Korea, are funding poor churches in Asia and Africa. During the Covid-19 pandemic in India and the crisis in Myanmar, churches in Asia supported affected communities with funds and solidarity in prayer.
It is true not all churches in Asia can return the favor economically. But that does not bar them from reaching out to Germans and others affected in Europe in the form of prayer and solidarity. Let us not forget: rich or poor, powerful or weak, all need support in times of crisis.
Rock Ronald Rozario
About the author: Rock Ronald Rozario is a journalist for UCA News. This is an abridged version of an article originally published by UCA News on July 22, 2021 with the title: Time for Asian churches to help flood-hit Germans. This article was also translated into German.