UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News

Sri Lanka

Slow post-terror healing in Sri Lanka

School children are asked to replace their normal bags with transparent plastic ones because more attacks are feared

ucanews.com reporter, Gampaha

ucanews.com reporter, Gampaha

Updated: June 27, 2019 03:03 AM GMT
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Slow post-terror healing in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Christians hold oil lamps as they take part in a remembrance ceremony in Colombo on June 21, two months after Easter Sunday bombings targeting churches and luxury hotels killed 253 people. (Photo by Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP)

 

 

Share this article :
Nilushan Prasad Fernando, a Sri Lankan government school teacher, observes that Catholics are again celebrating feast days and there are Sunday school sessions for children.

But, in the wake of the tragic Easter Sunday bombings, worshippers are banned from taking bags to church events and they have been warned not to congregate in groups after Masses.

A local group of radicals affiliated with the so-called Islamic State bombed three churches and three luxury hotels on April 21, killing 253 people, nearly all Christians, and injuring more than 500.

Large church public gatherings, such as processions, are still not being held.

"The annual feast of St. Anthony's church at Weliweriya in Gampaha celebrated their feast in a simple way and cancelled the procession," said Fernando who is also a Sunday school teacher.

Army and police personnel stand guard at every church and school entrance.

To make the placing of bombs by terrorists more difficult, school children and Sunday school participants have been asked to replace their usual bags and satchels with small transparent ones.

"Priests in many parishes have scaled back various church activities in the wake of the terror attacks," Fernando said.

Those who were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks were remembered at various modest feast day celebrations and there were expressions of hope for the recovery of those who were injured, Fernando said.

Church services in the country on week days have also restarted with their own security arrangements in place with the help of parish volunteers.

Catholic private schools and government run schools closed after the Easter bombings have all reopened.

But Fernando said that students attending classes are subjected to body searches.

Father Luckston de Silva, media spokesperson for Mannar Diocese in Northern Province, said that the 'Our Lady of Madhu' feast would be held as usual on July 2.

"Owing to the prevailing situation in the country, the security will be tightened and the faithful who come to the shrine should extend their support to maintain security," said Father de Silva. 

Fear among Sri Lankans

People's fears that there will be more terrorist attacks have been heightened by new intelligence agency reports that Sri Lanka and India remain under threat with Islamic State turning its attention to the Indian ocean region in the wake of losses across Syria and Iraq.

In Sri Lanka, an army and police presence is still highly visible in major cities and towns as well as some villages as security forces continue daily search operations.

Troops wearing camouflage clothing patrol cities in jeeps.

President Maithripala Sirisena told parliament that most of the suspects with links to terror groups have been arrested.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said that it was a grave crime to kill innocent people.

"The youth who were involved in exploding the bombs in our churches on Easter Sunday did so, to manifest their political line of thinking to the world," said Cardinal Ranjith at the consecration of a new church in the port city of Negombo.

And at another event, Cardinal Ranjith stressed that the nation needs leaders who will safeguard people's rights.

"There should be a leadership that will work for the country rather than themselves," said Cardinal Ranjith. "A leader with a back-bone who is not afraid to punish wrongdoers."

Catholic priests have filed a petition with the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka targeting the government for failing to act on warnings that could potentially have prevented the Easter Sunday bombings.

The priests have accused 13 public officials, including Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, of dereliction of duty and violating fundamental human rights, notably Catholics' right to freely practice their religion.

The Sri Lankan government has initiated several investigations into the Easter Sunday blasts.

A Presidential Commission has recommended that criminal and disciplinary action be taken against senior police officials who failed to prevent the attacks.

President Sirisena on June 21 further extended a State of Emergency for another month.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
UCA Newsletter
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
UCAN Ad
 
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution