By Tim Harfmann
Hymns of praise echoed in Sri Lanka one week after bombs exploded on Easter Sunday. The faith was shaken — but not lost. Parishioners, cloaked in white, gathered inside Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith’s residence in Colombo on Sunday, April 29th. Other worshipers were forced to watch the Mass on television from their homes.
The archbishop canceled Sunday services in Catholic Churches over safety concerns and complained about the lack of security around churches. Other Catholic leaders called for peace. “Be calm. Don’t fight with each other,” said one Sri Lankan priest.
Fear is not only keeping people out of houses of worship, but also off the streets. The Sri Lankan people are still facing the unknown, yet they’re moving forward in the healing process.
The country’s president, prime minister and opposition leader — all non-Christians — attended the Mass and lit candles for the victims. Officials said the link to ISIS is clearer now than ever before. Over 250 people died in the terror-targeted blasts last week.
Here at home, Brooklyn’s Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio condemned the attacks; “This was planned by, clearly, terrorists in the name of Islam, which is a hijacking of the religion of peace. But it’s unfortunate that this kind of terrorism is happening.”
The bishop stressed the importance of Pope Francis’ papal journey to the UAE in February. The Holy Father signed a historic document with interfaith leaders entitled, “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.” “It had 10 points,” said Bishop DiMarzio; “But two of the things that really affect us, in this particular case, is that houses of worship must be protected and not be targeted for any kind of terrorism; and that people should be able to live together in peace.”
As calls of peace continued, Sri Lankans remained resilient. Their hearts are full even as their houses of worship remain empty.