ASIA/SRI LANKA - Easter attacks: the Catholic community prays and is committed to recognizing its "martyrs"

Monday, 4 March 2024 martyrs  

Colombo (Agenzia Fides) - "The faithful who lost their lives as innocents, in the moment of adoration of God, in the terrorist attacks of Easter 2019, while participating in the Eucharist on Sunday in church, are for us heroes of the faith. They were killed while worshiping God. They were in church to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. We want them to be proclaimed martyrs", says Father Cyril Gamini Fernando to Fides. The priest from Colombo is the head of the Catholic weekly newspaper in Sinhala "Gnartha Pradeepaya" ("The Light of Knowledge"). The priest confirms: "On April 21, the anniversary of their death, a petition signed by thousands of the faithful will be handed over to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, asking him to begin the process of beatification. This is an important step, because it is the result of a popular initiative that many believers have joined. The Cardinal will then submit it to the Holy See":
Father Fernando further reports that the community of the Archdiocese of Colombo has the ardent desire to begin the process of canonization of 171 Catholic faithful killed in the terrorist attack on Easter Sunday 2019, in order to honor their "martyrs of the faith": to this end, the Lenten season is living with this prayer intention. The journey will culminate with a solemn celebration on April 21, the fifth anniversary of the attacks. The cleric recalls that the five-year deadline is the minimum time required by the Church to open the cause of canonization and then the Cardinal will be able to submit the petition to the Vatican Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, in order to then initiate the diocesan phase of the process.
On 19 April 2019, eight suicide bombers carried out attacks on two Catholic and one Protestant churches, three luxury hotels and other locations, killing a total of 269 people and injuring more than 500 others. These included 171 Catholics who died during services in the Catholic churches of St. Sebastian and St. Anthony. "Those who died in the churches in April 2019 sacrificed their lives for what they believed in. They came to the church because they believed in Christ," said the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, supporting the popular initiative of the faithful.
According to investigators, a local radical group with ties to the Islamic State, the NationalThowheeth Jama'ath, planned and organized the attack. But five years after the events, according to many observers, the true instigators of the massacre and the collusion with political circles accused of concealing information and covering up those responsible are still not fully understood. The Church in Sri Lanka continues to call for "truth and justice," with investigations that view the attacks as deliberate acts to destabilize the country.
Even Pope Francis called on the Sri Lankan government to take action to identify those responsible and bring justice to the victims and their families. "Please, out of love for justice, out of love for your people, let it be made clear once and for all who were responsible for these events. This will bring peace to your conscience and to the nation ," the Pope said.
However, concluded Father Fernando, the path of justice is "independent of the path of faith": From this point of view, we pray and commit ourselves, united as a community, for the recognition of martyrdom". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 4/3/2023)