Venezuela Famine: Churches Even Face Shortage in Communion Wafers Before Easter

Venezuela priest celebrates Communion in front of a crucifix.

Thanks to the socialist big government policies of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro, the country has long faced famines and shortages of all sorts: toilet paper, food and drink, and even the vital wafers for the sacrament of Communion, a central celebration during Holy Week and Easter in the mostly Roman Catholic country.

Venezuela is suffering from a shortage of wheat and grain, and that means a shortage of Communion wafers. As Communion is a sacrament in the Catholic faith — a means of attaining grace from God, and a central part of the celebration of the high holiday of Easter — this constitutes a spiritual famine in the land. A full 71 percent of Venezuelans identify as Roman Catholic, and 17 percent as Protestant or other Christian.

A church organization from across the border in Colombia drudged through the rain to deliver 250,000 Communion wafers just before Easter.

A priest in the city of Mérida, in the Andes, told the Catholic newspaper La Croix that he and fellow ministers had to "appeal to churchgoers to take flour to the nuns who make the hosts."

Members of the Catholic diocese of Cúcuta, Colombia, braved heavy rains this week to deliver the Communion wafers over a bridge that connects the two countries. These brave Catholics made the delivery "so that during this time of Holy Week, [Venezuelans] can celebrate the central mysteries of the Christian faith," the diocese announced Wednesday.

Tragically, this is not the first spiritual famine Venezuela has faced, thanks to the communist policies of its own leaders. In 2013, the country's priests also reported a lack of Communion wafers and wine, necessary for Holy Week and Easter.

Venezuela has struggled with all sorts of shortages and famines in recent years, both due to the drop in the price of oil and the incompetence of its socialist government. After a succession of corrupt and incompetent governments, the people turned to a Marxist named Hugo Chavez, who just made things worse.

Chavez controlled prices, gave Cuba huge amounts of aid, and borrowed billions from China, while destroying the ability of businesses in his country to operate. There are shortages of everything in today's Venezuela, and the country is on the verge of collapse. People are waiting in bread lines, workers can only work two days a week due to energy shortages, and the country has run out of toilet paper.

Venezuela actually responded to a bread shortage last year by imprisoning bakers and seizing bakeries. The charity of Colombian Christians presented another solution — a free gift to meet a deep spiritual need, a small image of the Gospel.

Venezuela's shortages are particularly tragic given the country's rich natural resources, particularly in the form of oil. Some have warned that America could become like Venezuela, and Venezuelan President Maduro actually endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the 2016 presidential election.

Holy Week refers to the eight days between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, and is meant to commemorate the events of Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, His Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, His Crucifixion on Good Friday, and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Catholics and other Christian traditions celebrate Communion on each of these four holy days.

The charity from Colombian churches demonstrates a powerful answer to the poverty resulting from communism. Christians in Colombia voluntarily chose to give sacrificially to help their fellow believers in struggling Venezuela, an act of true Christian charity before Easter.