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Sri Lanka cardinal offers forgiveness for Easter 2019 church attacks

Chamila Karunarathne | Anadolu Agency | AFP

John Burger - published on 04/15/20

 "It is human nature to hurt people through anger, but we have given up that human nature and chosen the life of the resurrection of the Lord," said Cardinal Ranjith.

A year after an Easter that brought great suffering to many people in Sri Lanka, the Catholic leader in the island nation has cited Easter as the reason to forgive the terrorists behind that suffering.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo on Sunday offered forgiveness to those who carried out a series of attacks on Easter Sunday 2019 that left 279 persons dead and about 500 injured.

“Selfishness could have been given as an answer by thinking about it as human beings, but at the time we paid attention to the message of Christ and loved those enemies who killed us,” Cardinal Ranjith said. “It is human nature to hurt people through anger, but we have given up that human nature and chosen the life of the resurrection of the Lord. Resurrection is the complete rejection of selfishness.”

Cardinal Ranjith called the attackers a group of misguided youths who aimed to harm Christians.

“We had pity on them and asked them not to repeat such things,” he said during Easter Sunday Mass. “We have taught them that lesson, not hating anyone in any way. This is what civilization means and that is the resurrection.”

Nine suicide bombers affiliated with local Islamist extremist group National Thowheed Jamath on April 21, 2019, attacked three churches and three luxury hotels. They carried out coordinated bomb attacks at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kotahena and the evangelical Zion Church in Batticaloa. St. Sebastian’s and St. Anthony’s have since been reconsecrated and reopened, according to UCANews. The evangelical church is still being repaired.

“Not only did Catholics die but the bombs killed Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims,” Cardinal Ranjith noted.

UCANews said that police have arrested 135 people in connection with the attacks.

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