Churches silent in Sri Lanka one week after attacks

Published: April 28, 2019

Churches in the island nation of Sri Lanka have suspended the Sunday mass as the Archbishop of Colombo had delivered a special address from a chapel at his home, as the fears of impending attacks remain after the suicide bombers had killed over 250 people on Easter in churches and hotels. The entire nation has been on high alert ever since with over 10,000 soldiers deployed all across the country for carrying out searches and hunting down members of the two local Islamist organisations who are believed to be behind the Easter carnage.
Sri Lankan government has said that the attacks have been carried out by at least 9 well-educated and informed Sri Lankan citizens, of which 8 have been identified. More than 100 people have been detained by the authorities which also include some foreigners from Syria and Egypt ever since the attacks. The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith conducted a special mass from a church close to his house which had been broadcast as a live telecast across the local TV and radio. In his sermon, the archbishop said “We cannot kill someone in the name of God…It is a great tragedy that happened. We extend our hand of friendship and fraternity to all our brothers and sisters of whatever class, society or religion that differentiates us”. The sermon was also attended by President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and also the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The sermon was followed by the lighting of candles by the Archbishop and the political leaders in remembrance of the victims of the suicide bombings. Although most victims belonged to Sri Lanka, they also had around 40 foreigners from different nationalities like the US, Turkish, Australian, Chinese, Indian, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese.
Around 22 million population of Sri Lanka is Buddhist majorly although it includes other minorities like Muslims Christians and Hindus. So far, Christians have avoided being a part of the worst conflicts of the island and other kinds of communal tensions.
The Archbishop mentioned that earlier in the week he saw an internal security document which carried warnings of further attacks on churches and thus had cancelled all Catholic masses celebrated anywhere on the island.
Rituals were also carried out at the Kingsbury Hotel where one of the bombs had blasted, by saffron-clad Buddhist monks who were as young as 10 along with the senior clergy.

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