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Copyright © 2019 Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, All rights reserved.

Archbishop Auza Addresses Commemorative Event for Sri Lanka Victims

‘We are dealing here with something we constantly denounce in our debates: the heinous, unjustifiable, inhuman crime of terrorism as a concrete manifestation of extremist fundamentalism and radicalism.’

On May 3, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, spoke at the commemorative event for the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka that was organized by the President of the General Assembly and by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka.

In his remarks, Archbishop Auza expressed the sincerest condolences and promise of prayers to the Delegation and people of Sri Lanka over the horrific terrorist attacks that occurred on April 21, claiming the lives of 253 people. He reiterated the words and spiritual closeness of Pope Francis on Easter morning. He said that words are not enough in response to such heinous, unjustifiable, inhuman crimes, but that the plague of terrorism must be attacked at its roots. One of the necessary actions in the fight against terrorism is to describe attacks by their proper name and that involves in the case of the Easter attacks, acknowledging the anti-Christian nature of them as an instance of what the General Assembly recently described as Christianophobia. Terrorist attacks, he said, are always and everywhere deplorable, but attacks on religious believers at worship, like happened in Sri Lanka, are the most shameful and cowardly attack against peace imaginable.

Here are the archbishop’s full remarks:

Madame President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Ambassador Rohan Perera,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Holy See reiterates its sincerest condolences to the Delegation and people of Sri Lanka in the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks carried out against the innocent on Easter Sunday morning, April 21, while assuring its prayers for the victims and their families.

On the day when Christians mark their most solemn feast and celebrate the ultimate triumph of life over death, good over evil and light over darkness, extremists cast a black pall of death, evil and darkness over the beautiful country of Sri Lanka and, indeed, the whole globe. For among the dead, there were 211 Sri Lankans and 42 others from now fewer than 16 countries.

Informed of these attacks, Pope Francis spoke from the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican to the tens of thousands of pilgrims assembled in St. Peter’s Square and to the millions across the globe who were tuning into his annual Easter greeting via television, radio, and social media. “I wish,” he said, “to show my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [of Sri Lanka], struck while gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence. I entrust to the Lord those who were tragically killed and I pray for the wounded and all suffering from this tragic event.” On the following day, the Pope expressed similar sentiments.

And, in his name, I repeat anew his words of profound human and spiritual closeness to the people of Sri Lanka as well as the assurance of his continued prayers for those who perished, those who survived the trauma, and all those who are grieving.

We are dealing here with something we constantly denounce in our debates: the heinous, unjustifiable, inhuman crime of terrorism as a concrete manifestation of extremist fundamentalism and radicalism. But words of condemnation, however sincere, are not enough. Actions are required to eliminate this scourge at its roots.

One of the necessary actions in the fight to eradicate such violence is to describe attacks by their proper name. What happened in Sri Lanka did not happen on Easter Sunday by accident or coincidence. Two prominent Catholic Churches and one evangelical Church were deliberately targeted in the course of religious services. To overlook the explicitly anti-Christian aspect of these attacks would do an injustice to the victims, the survivors and their families. The international community is very forthright, and rightly so, in decrying rising anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim hatred; the same standard must be applied to attacks against Christians. The recent Resolution adopted April 2 by the General Assembly on Combatting Terrorism and Other Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief got it right when it condemned “all terrorist attacks against places of worship that are motivated by religious hatred, including Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and Christianophobia” (A/Res/73/285).

Terrorist attacks are always and everywhere deplorable, but attacks on religious believers at worship are the most shameful and cowardly attack against peace imaginable. That’s what happened in Sri Lanka. And the whole world justly mourns.

May God bless Sri Lanka and its noble people!

Copyright © 2019 Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, All rights reserved.

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