Catholic schools in Sri Lanka will reopen on May 14, after the closure established for security reasons following the Easter attacks that killed 258 people and injuring about 500 people. This was announced by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo after a meeting between the 12 bishops and President Maithripala Sirisena, held in Colombo on May 9, 2019, Agency News Agency reported May 10.
Cardinal Ranjith also announced that Sunday masses will regularly resume in all Catholic churches in Colombo starting from May 13, while a special Holy Mass will be held on the evening of May 16 in Negombo, north of the capital, to commemorate the victims. “An outdoor mass will be held and it will be the first time, after the explosion at the Church of San Sebastiano in Negombo, where over 100 people were killed”, said Cardinal Ranjith.
The schools run by the Church have remained closed, fearing new attacks. All state schools – more than 10,000 in total – resumed classes on May 6 after police and security forces deployed armed guards in front of the institutions, even though attendance was quite low.
The government has accused a local group, the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), of the attacks that also injured nearly 500 people, who declared loyalty to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group that claimed responsibility of the attacks. The authorities have banned the NTJ with new emergency laws.
President Sirisena has made every effort to eradicate the militants and restore normality in the country that is still recovering from a 37-year separatist Tamil war that ended almost a decade ago. “The offensive against Islamic extremists is proceeding successfully”, President Sirisena’s office said.
Sri Lankan police say they killed or arrested all those responsible for the attacks. At least 56 suspects are in custody, the police said.
The Anglican Bishop of Colombo, Mgr. Dhiloraj Canagasabey, commented: “We must join our forces, side by side, and rebuild our homeland. The Easter tragedy in Sri Lanka is a sad and terrible event in our country’s long descent into darkness. Now, with the faith in God and love among brothers, we will come out of it.”
Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic island country with 22 million inhabitants, mostly Buddhists but includes Christian, Muslim, and Hindu minorities. Muslims represent almost 10 percent of the population; Christians 7.4 percent (6.1 percent Catholics and 1.3 percent Protestants).