Tuesday, April 23, 2019

“Only Animals Act that Way”: Cardinal Ranjith

By INFOVATICANA / April 22, 2019
(Religion in Freedom) - Following the attacks that have caused 207 dead and 500 wounded in Sri Lanka, with explosions in three churches and three hotels, the archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith (secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship between 2005 and 2009 addressed the government and society in a very calm but firm way: "It is a sad day for all of us. I condemn, as much as I am capable, this act that has caused so much death and suffering to the people. I would also like to ask the government for a rigorous and impartial investigation to find out who is behind this act, and punish them without mercy, because only animals act like that. And I ask all the people of Sri Lanka not to take justice into their own hands and maintain peace and harmony in the nation."

Last Easter Sunday, a wave of terrorist attacks devastated the island of Sri Lanka, with Catholics being one of its main targets. There were explosions in six different places: three churches, two Catholic and one Evangelical, and three luxury hotels. Subsequently, there were more attacks in other parts of the country. The number of deaths is devastating. The figure to date is 207 dead and 450 injured.

According to different news agencies, the bombs exploded at around 8:45 am local time, both in the three hotels in Colombo and in three churches where the Resurrection of Christ was being celebrated.

At least 62 people died in one of the explosions, which occurred in the church of Saint Sebastian, in the city of Negombo, north of the capital, as confirmed by official sources. Another 27 people died in the Evangelical Church of Sion, in Batticaloa (Eastern province of the country). The third explosion occurred in Saint Anthony's church in the Kotahena district of the capital, Colombo, and left 49 dead.

The emergency services in Sri Lanka said that the churches were full of faithful at that time. In the church of Saint Sebastian, in Negombo, a spokesman told Reuters that there were at least fifty people dead.

The attackers chose their objectives with special care. The church of Saint Anthony in Colombo is one of the most emblematic buildings in Sri Lanka. A national sanctuary that tens of thousands of people attend to during the commemoration of the saint to whom it is dedicated, Saint Anthony of Padua.

The police have asked citizens for calm. "Please remain calm and inside your houses. There are many victims, including foreigners”, Sri Lankan Minister for Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Harsha de Silva, said on Twitter, after visiting several of the sites attacked.

De Silva reported that a Crisis Cabinet had been called and he spoke emotionally after the "horrible scenes" he had seen. "I've seen amputated limbs spread all over the place. Emergency teams are deployed in full at all points. (...) We have taken many victims to the hospital, we hope we can save many lives", he said through his Twitter account.

In Sri Lanka, the Christian population represents 7%, while Buddhists account for 70%, Hindus for 15% and Muslims 11%.