Colombo Archbishop cancels all public Easter Sunday commemorations

Saturday, 18 April 2020

All programmes that were scheduled to be held to mark the first year anniversary of the tragic Easter Sunday bombings on April 21st will not be held due to the prevailing Coronavirus situation in the country, said the Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith convening a media briefing yestarday (16).

The Archbishop said that as a measure of complying with government orders and in support of the efforts taken by the government and the health authorities and the tri services to control the spread of the Coronavirus epidemic in the country, the Catholic Church had decided to conduct all commemoration events and other activities planned for April 21st without the participation of the public. He said instead, all commemoration activities would be held under a family cantered setting.

He noted that accordingly, all masses and religious events organised in memory of those who were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks at the Kochchikade St. Anthony’s Shrine, Katuwapitiya Church and the cemeteries where the victims have been laid to rest, will therefore, not be conducted.

Accordingly, focus has been placed on a simple commemoration to mark those who died in the Easter Sunday attacks. “We will hold these programmes over the television channels without any participation of the public. However, as the victims of the Easter bombings included people of all religious and ethnic denominations, we expect the participation of every religious and ethnic groups in this commemoration. Hence, I appeal to everyone to join us wholeheartedly in this commemoration at 8.45 am, the time that the first bomb exploded from your own homes.”

The Head of the Catholic Church requested that all churches around the country ring their bells signifying this event at 8.40 am on April 21st (Tuesday) and appealed to all temples across the country and other religions to do the same. At 8.45 am on the same day, he appealed to the whole nation and all government institutions to observe two minutes silence in remembrance of those who lost their lives on that day. At 8.47 the Cardinal requested everyone to light a candle or lamp at their homes and places of work and observe religious observances.

“I urge everyone to observe these requests from your own homes. I appreciate if the television stations would take measures to include the other religious leaders too in their programmes in remembering the victims. I would also like to assure the families who were affected by the Easter Sunday bombings and lost loved ones that although we are unable to conduct public programmes and be there with you physically, we are always with you in spirit to share all your pain and grievances,” His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said.

He also thanked the government for effectively conducting the investigations into this incident, especially the President and Prime Minister. He said a certain group had conspired to create clashes and tension between the various communities and urged the government to find these groups so that they would not be able to cause such damage in the future. “We would like those who authored these attacks, supported or encouraged it, to be found and punished. It’s a matter of justice. But, I must stress that it is not any action against any particular community. It is only against those who did wrong. If those who did wrong are Catholics, then they should also be equally punished before the law as there is no difference. So we want the government to carry out the investigation but we don’t want anyone to attribute to any particular community in toto for the actions of these misguided people. Hence, I urge everyone not to point fingers at any community, but to identify those responsible only and isolate them and ensure that they don’t get involved in such activities hereafter,” he said, adding that the intelligence services should be strengthened so that such situations could be prevented in the future.

The Cardinal said that there could be various reasons for those who did this wrong, but the wrong is the wrong and it cannot be justified. However, he said that an entire religion cannot be blamed for the actions of a handful.

He said that around 399 families were affected by the Easter Sunday attacks and two victims are still in hospital and 167 are still ill but at home and 89 of them are still under treatment. The Cardinal assured that all funds donated for the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks are being used exclusively for their needs and benefits.