Sri Lankan cardinal urges faithful to visit bomb victims

Failure to track down Easter Sunday terrorists has 'added insult to injury' for those who lost loved ones
Sri Lankan cardinal urges faithful to visit bomb victims

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith (second left) and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (left) pay homage to victims of the Easter Sunday bomb attacks in Negombo on Aug. 29. (Photo: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP)

A Sri Lankan cardinal has urged the faithful to spend Christmas visiting families devastated by the Easter Sunday attacks and not waste their time going to noisy parties.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo spoke up on Nov. 24 to draw attention to the trauma suffered by those who lost loved ones, the unbridgeable vacuum created in their hearts, the pain and suffering of the injured, some of whose life has been shattered beyond repair, and the children who will never see their parents again.

“Many of them do not know why they were targeted and who did this. Officials still haven’t charged anyone for this terrible tragedy,” said Cardinal Ranjith.

“The perpetrators of this deed have not been identified. Thus the suffering of those victims has been compounded by the inability of the authorities to go looking for the authors of this horror, adding insult to injury.”

He added that “with so many of our brothers and sisters still suffering such intense pain,” it would not be right for faithful to make the birth of the divine savior, who deigned to be born among the poor and the suffering in a humble manger, an event of noisy celebrations.

“Instead this Christmas should be a moment for us to reflect on this painful situation afflicting many of our brothers and sisters, to pray for them and for our beloved motherland, and to commit to work for peace, harmony and reconciliation among the various communities living in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Buddhists makes up 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s 21 million population, while Muslims account for 10 percent and Christians 7 percent.

“Harbor feelings of goodwill to all of them and if possible visit the families of those affected and pray with them; do everything possible to help them feel that they are not alone,” said Cardinal Ranjith.

The series of suicide attacks on April 21 became a key issue in the Nov. 16 presidential election and candidates made national security the primary focus of debates.

A group of nine suicide bombers affiliated with local Islamist extremist group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) blasted three churches and three luxury hotels, killing 269 people and injuring at least 500.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, became Sri Lanka’s seventh president after being nominated as the candidate for the main opposition party Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) by Mahinda.

Gotabaya met Cardinal Ranjith on Nov. 21 and said that a formal inquiry into the Easter bombing would be conducted and vowed that the victims would soon see justice done.

President Gotabaya even called on Cardinal Ranjith to nominate a representative to the committee appointed for the purpose.

The cardinal’s tone in his latest statement suggested he is yet to be convinced.

“There has been no investigation into the people involved in these incidents. Some of those investigations have tried to hide it under the carpet. The bombing and the killings of all the people must be analyzed,” he said.

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President Rajapaksa’s told the archbishop: “I have already acted to prevent such things happening in this country again. Our best intelligence officers did not act. That’s the main reason [for the failure to find those responsible].

“If someone joins the committee that I have appointed from your side, you can have confidence in it. That is why I have not yet appointed a committee. After this discussion, I will appoint a committee to look into the matter.”

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