Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 22 January |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Laura Vicuña
home iconNews
line break icon

Sri Lankan Cardinal Forgives Church Desecrators, Won't Press Charges

CC Buddhima W.Wickramasinghe

Antonio Gonsalves - published on 07/25/13

A group of drunk young men destroyed statues, forced open the tabernacle, and attempted to set the tabernacle on fire - but were miraculously unable to light it on fire even after dousing it in kerosene

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo has forgiven the desecrators of a Catholic church in Sri Lanka, refusing to press criminal charges against them.

Father Cyril Gamin Fernando, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Colombo, told CNA that the act is an exemplar of “Christian love and mercy.” He said the gesture caused a “shockwave” of surprise and won “goodwill” among Sri Lankans.

On the night of June 5 a group of drunken young men attacked and desecrated St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in the town of Angulana south of Colombo.

Fr. Sunil De Silva, parish priest of St. Mary’s Church in Bambalapitiya, told CNA that the men destroyed the century old historical statues of the church also statues of Mother Mary and forced open the tabernacle.

He said the group poured Kerosene oil to burn the tabernacle, which miraculously failed to catch fire. Investigators found 30 matches that had been lit soaked inside the Tabernacle.

The Angulana police arrested three persons for the crime.

The small church is about 750 square feet in area. It is one of several chapels and churches in the parish of Rawathatte, which serves about 4,000 families.

Soon after the crime, parish priest Fr. Christo Viraj Fernando and the rest of the community conducted penitential services with intercessory prayers seeking forgiveness for the desecration of the house of God.

Fr. Cyril Fernando, the archdiocese spokesman, said local Buddhists praised the forgiving “benevolence” shown toward the perpetrators.

The priest said most Buddhists are “tolerant” people and are peaceful and harmonious except for a few “extremists.”

Some Buddhist monks have also condemned the attack and expressed their “solidarity” with Catholics, Fr. De Silva said.

He told CNA that most Sri Lankans are “rational,” “understanding” and favor inter-religious dialogue, though some extremist forces are indoctrinated and incited to violence.

Christians make up about 8.4 percent of the 20.4 million people living in Sri Lanka.

Originally published by Catholic News Agency on July 24th, 2013.

Tags:
CatholicismChristians in the Middle East
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
2
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on YouTube for kids with...
3
MARTIN LUTHER KING
Jorge Graña
Did you know Martin Luther King appreciated the Rosary?
4
Philip Kosloski
What are the corporal works of mercy?
5
couple
Anna Gębalska-Berekets
Couple praises Padre Pio's recipe for a happy marriage
6
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
Reasons Catholics should read the Bible
7
EMOTIONAL
Bret Thoman, OFS
Need healing? An exorcist recommends this 12-word prayer
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.