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New peace initiatives requested

Caritas to strengthen justice and peace units in every diocese

Catholic priests and nuns during their meeting in Colombo Catholic priests and nuns during their meeting in Colombo
  • ucanews.com reporter, Colombo
  • Sri Lanka
  • February 28, 2011
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Catholic priests and nuns say the Church needs new “peace strategies” to help rehabilitate the Tamil community affected by decades of ethnic strife.

People are kidnapped and still disappear and the area is under heavy military control, Tamil priests working in the former war-ravaged northern Sri Lanka told two bishops and 15 priests and nuns during a Caritas organized meeting in Colombo on February 24. According to the priests there is still mistrust and suspicion among the community.

“I think the best way is that we should strength our justice and peace units in every diocese which will enable people to communicate with each other,” said Father James Pathinathar who was injured in the war and has now recovered.

“We should be able to discuss with the Tamil Nation Alliance (TNA) about the problems they are facing,” said Bishop Harold Anthony, chairman of the Sri Lankan justice, peace and human development commission. The alliance is the democratically elected Tamil party that could reflect current concerns of the Tamil community, he said.

“Today we heard so many things about what is going on in north. But as Church leaders we should organize better on behalf of the people,” said Father Mervyn Fernando, a peace activist.

According to the priest, Sinhalese are Buddhists and Tamils mostly Hindus. Only Christians are both Tamils and Sinhalese. So the Church cannot keep away from the ethnic conflict, he said.

Hundreds were killed in the almost three-decades long civil war. About 75,000 people have disappeared since 2004.

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SR13452.1643
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