Pope on attacks in Sri Lanka: martyrs show that injustice does not have the last word
The brutal attacks in Sri Lanka last Easter Sunday continue to remind the world that, in many places, being a Christian can cost your life.
Three churches and three hotels were targeted by suicide bombers from a local Islamist group. They carried out the attacks supported by the Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility.
This was the explosion of St. Anthony Church seen from a distance.
This is the interior of the Church after the explosion which claimed the lives of dozens of people celebrating the Resurrection of Christ.
A few hours later, in Rome, the pope especially remembered these victims during the Urbi et Orbi blessing.
“It was with sadness and sorrow that I received the news of the serious attacks which, just today, Easter Sunday, have brought mourning and sadness to some churches and other public places in Sri Lanka. I wish to express my affection and closeness to the Christian community, attacked while gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence.”
During these days, Pope Francis has continually voiced his concern for the more than 350 dead and 500 wounded people after the terrible attack.
“I want to express once again my spiritual and paternal closeness to the people of Sri Lanka. I am very close to my dear brother, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, and to the whole Archdiocese of Colombo. I pray for the many victims and wounded, and I ask everyone not to hesitate to offer all the necessary help to this beloved nation. I also hope that everyone will condemn these terrorist acts, inhuman acts that are never justifiable.”
He has also posted messages on Twitter. On Wednesday he published this message in which he assures that these martyrs show injustice does not have the last word.
Malcolm Ranjith, Cardinal of Sri Lanka, has presided over the first funerals. He has called on Christians to remain calm and to not fall into a spiral of revenge. The country's bishops have also called for these attacks not to be politically exploited.
Unfortunately, the number of victims continues to rise because there are many seriously injured.
The pope visited Sri Lanka in January 2015. The country had gone through 25 years of civil war. It was a conflict that, among others, had an ethnic-religious cause. This is why Pope Francis has insisted on several occasions that religion should never be used as a pretext for violent acts.
“For the sake of peace, religious beliefs must never be allowed to be abused in the cause of violence and war.”
Sri Lanka has always aroused much interest among the popes. Pope Francis was the fourth to travel to this place known as the "Pearl of the Indian Ocean". Paul VI was also the first to visited this island in 1970, and John Paul II visited it twice, in 1981 and 1995.
The country has some 23 million people, 70 percent of whom are Buddhists, while Muslims are less than 10 percent and Christians are close to 8 percent.