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Pope Francis expresses solidarity with Sri Lankan Church

The Holy Father has assured Cardinal Ranjith of his support to ensure justice for Easter attack victims

UCA News reporter, Colombo

UCA News reporter, Colombo

Published: October 25, 2021 09:02 AM GMT

Updated: October 25, 2021 04:57 PM GMT

Pope Francis expresses solidarity with Sri Lankan Church

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith (second from right) attends a Mass in remembrance of Easter Sunday attack victims in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on April 21. (Photo: AFP)

Pope Francis has expressed his support for the Sri Lankan Church in its attempts to seek justice for the victims of the Easter Sunday bombings.

“His Holiness Pope Francis has sent me a letter in his own handwriting in Italian asking what action the Sri Lankan Catholic Church requires from the pope regarding the investigation into the Easter Sunday attack,” Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo revealed.

He was speaking at an online briefing on the investigations organized by the Australian-Sri Lankan Justice Forum for victims of the 2019 terrorist atrocity on Oct. 24.

The pope promised to pay close attention to the tragic developments, to pray constantly to God for the people of Sri Lanka and to extend all necessary support to all those who seek justice. “As you know, the Holy Father is aware of the situation and is very supportive of us,” said Cardinal Ranjith.

He went on to read out relevant excerpts from the letter, which stated: “Cardinal Bagnasco has handed over to me your letter of last August 24 in which you explained to me about the ugly situation and that the reality of April 21, 2019, remains without clarity to the public. Also in the last few days, a message has arrived from the nunciature in which the same facts were recounted.

“This situation makes me very sad. I promise to pray more and remain ready to do whatever you consider opportune. Tomorrow I will speak with the secretary of state about it.

I do not forget that example of a shepherd … Please count on me and indicate what would be best to be done from here

“I remember how in those days you were so courageous as to prevent any vengeance by the Christians and you went with the imam of the Islamic community to meet them so that they may witness the friendship among yourselves. I do not forget that example of a shepherd … Please count on me and indicate what would be best to be done from here.” 

Cardinal Ranjith has repeatedly expressed his unhappiness with the lack of progress of investigations into the attack and attempts by the government to undermine them.

Sri Lankans abroad have organized demonstrations, including during recent state visits by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to attend the UN General Assembly in New York City and by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to Italy, to highlight that justice has not been done to the victims.

The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has repeatedly sought transparency in the investigations and judicial process. Cardinal Ranjith had informed the Vatican through its representatives about church concerns and was assured they will be taken up at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Three churches and three luxury hotels were targeted by suicide bombers affiliated to local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath on Easter Sunday in 2019, killing at least 269 people, including 37 foreign nationals, and injuring at least 500.

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