“This morning all the bells of our churches and of all Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim places of worship rang to remember the martyrs of the attacks of April 21, 2019, when terrorists committed a massacre in Sri Lanka. We were unable to experience a public event, given the lockdown for Covid-19, but the whole country commemorated the victims, everyone at home, as asked by our Cardinal Malcom Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo”: says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Basil Fernando, Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Sri Lanka.
The priest continues: “All religious communities united spiritually and all civil authorities participated. Everyone made a personal prayer, at home or at work. We all lit a candle to remember the broken lives: all places of worship turned on their lights. For two minutes there was absolute silence in the country. Everything stopped to commemorate our martyrs, killed by terrorist violence, senseless and cruel”.
The National Director of the PMS informs: “It was a simple, intense, profound commemoration program. In this phase we will pray personally, later, when conditions allow it, we will be able to open and bless the new Chapel of the martyrs that we built thanks to the offers collected by the PMS of Sri Lanka with the international PMS network. The chapel is located in Negombo, the site of one of the attacks. We will celebrate Holy Mass. We will have meetings with the faithful of various religions. We will all gather as soon as possible when the isolation period imposed due to Covid-19 is over”.
A year after the attacks of April 21, 2019, the whole country remembered the attacks on Easter Sunday 2019, also in the emergency of the lockdown, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The local Church had to cancel all the Masses and public celebrations planned at the church of San Sebastiano in Negombo and at the sanctuary of Sant’Antonio in Kochchikade (Colombo), attacked by the suicide bombings.
A year ago, nine terrorists affiliated with the local Islamist group “Thowheed Jamathha” attacked three churches and three luxury hotels, killing at least 258 people, including 37 foreigners, and injuring over 500 people. Seven bombs went off in two Catholic churches and another in an Evangelical church in Batticaloa, in the eastern part of the country. Today the church of San Sebastiano and the sanctuary of Sant’Antonio have been reopened to the faithful, but the evangelical church of Sion is still under renovation. Religious leaders have repeatedly asked political authorities for greater efforts to prevent other attacks and bring the guilty to justice.