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Sri Lankan Catholics celebrate St. Anthony's feast remotely

Cardinal Ranjith prays for those killed in the Easter attacks and accuses politicians of neglecting their responsibilities

UCA News reporter, Colombo

UCA News reporter, Colombo

Published: June 14, 2021 10:40 AM GMT

Updated: June 14, 2021 02:00 PM GMT

Sri Lankan Catholics celebrate St. Anthony's feast remotely

Tamil Catholics touch statues of St. Anthony and the baby Jesus to receive blessings during the feast of St. Anthony in Toronto, Canada, on June 13. (Photo: AFP)

Sri Lankan Catholics have celebrated the feast of St. Anthony, one of the most popular saints in the country, without public participation.

Many churches organized Vespers and Mass without the participation of the faithful amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year the feast of St. Anthony was broadcast live via social media and the faithful attended Mass from their homes.

St. Anthony’s Church, in Kochchikade, Colombo, celebrated the feast with the participation of Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and three auxiliary bishops of the archdiocese on June 13.

The church was one of three places of worship attacked by suicide bombers on Easter Sunday in 2019. At least 93 people were killed at the church.

Cardinal Ranjith and other bishops prayed especially for all those who were killed on that fateful day.

Intercede to take action to bring justice in the law of God to the politicians who are still neglecting their responsibilities without doing justice to the Easter victims

"St. Anthony intercedes before God to bring justice to the Easter Sunday victims. Politicians and other responsible officials who were aware of the attacks had not acted to prevent them due to their own political benefit. The blood of our devotees shed in your holy land cries out to heaven for justice," he said.

"Intercede to take action to bring justice in the law of God to the politicians who are still neglecting their responsibilities without doing justice to the Easter victims." 

A group of suicide bombers affiliated to local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath targeted three churches and three luxury hotels, killing at least 279 people and injuring at least 500.

A priest said former president Maithripala Sirisena, prime minister Ranil Wickramasinghe and some government officials ignored warnings from foreign intelligence agencies about the attacks.

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"They all should be punished. Many in the current government exploited the Easter attacks to come to power but nothing has been done to date," said the priest, who asked to remain anonymous.

"What both of these governments did was deceive the relatives of the Easter victims and the people of the whole country." 

Father Roshan Fernando, parish priest of St. Anthony's Church in Weliweriya, celebrated a Mass that was broadcast via social media.

"There are a number of people who have not yet learned the lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic. We live in a world where there are people who use the pandemic to their advantage and engage in politics and business," said Father Fernando during his homily on June 13.

"Amid the Covid-19 crisis, a small group have become more powerful and wealthy, but the majority have become poorer."

St. Anthony distributed all his wealth to the poor

Sri Lanka has reported 223,638 coronavirus cases and 2,136 deaths.

"St. Anthony distributed all his wealth to the poor. I invite all my parishioners to share what you have with all poor Buddhists, Christians and non-Christians in our own village at the time of disaster because of Covid," Father Fernando said.

Mary Susila, a parishioner from Weliweriya, said they have been stuck at home for more than three weeks and keep praying to St. Anthony to save the country and the world from the Covid threat.

"A large number of people have died due to the coronavirus, hundreds were affected by floods and many fishermen lost their jobs due to the shipwreck," said Susila.

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