St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, one of the targets of Sri Lanka’s terrorist attacks. Photo: ANSA/Vatican News
Church members, groups and individuals joined Pope Francis in Rome’s St Peter’s Square as he reiterated his closeness to the people of Sri Lanka following the terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday. Speaking after the special Easter ‘Urbi et Orbi’ message and blessing, the Holy Father expressed his ‘heartfelt closeness to the Christian community, wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence.’
Pope Francis pledged his closeness and solidarity with Sri Lanka again on Easter Monday. Speaking to a large crowd in St Peter’s Square the Pope said he was very close to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and Archdiocese of Colombo, the capital, and prayed for the numerous victims and wounded. While urging the international community to offer the needed help to Sri Lanka, he called on them not to hesitate in condemning these terrorist and inhuman acts that are never justifiable.
The Catholic Bishops Conferences of Asia also expressed their solidarity and condolence to the Sri Lanka Church.
‘Allow me to express my sincere anguish at this tragedy that has taken the toll on scores of innocent human lives on the very day when we celebrate world over the victory of life and goodness over death and evil,’ wrote the President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, Cardinal Charles Bo of Myanmar in a letter to Cardinal Ranjith.
With fears of new attacks on Christian places of worship still palpable in Sri Lanka, the Catholic Church in the country has decided to cancel Sunday Masses until further notice.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, speaking to journalists on Friday 26 April, said that church officials had seen a leaked security document describing Catholic churches and other denominations as a major target for attackers. He also asked the faithful to stay home for their own safety. ‘We don’t want repetitions’, Cardinal Ranjith said.
Cardinal Ranjith’s comments came after the US Embassy in Sri Lanka warned the public to stay away from places of worship over the weekend, a stark alert underlining that authorities believe that members of the Islamist group connected to the bombings remain at large.
Authorities urged Muslims to pray at home rather than attend communal Friday prayers that are the most important religious service of the week. However, several mosques held services.
The Archbishop of Colombo also appealed for financial support to rebuild the lives of affected people and reconstruct the damaged churches targeted.
– Vatican News
Published in WelCom May 2019