A horrible terror ripped through the world on Easter Sunday, as suicide bombers simultaneously attacked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka, leaving more than 350 people dead. Two of the churches were Catholic and the other was Evangelical. Sri Lanka’s president has asked two top security officials to resign admits outrage that the government did nothing with intelligence on a probable attack. The investigation is still ongoing and police have made approximately sixty arrests at this time.
The apparent target and victims were Christian faithful going to Easter Mass to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many of these victims were also children, many of which were about to receive First Communion.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka urges citizens to remain calm while the investigation is ongoing. Conference president Bishop Winston S. Fernando urged the government to “ensure the safety of all citizens” and said, “Following the example of Jesus Christ who underwent undeserved suffering and offered himself to serve humankind, we must also be prepared to have a compassionate heart and prayerfully seek solutions in a human and just manner.”
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith told a press conference on April 22, “Strengthen the state intelligence services. We were informed that the Easter Sunday attacks could have been avoided if the government had acted on the prior information.” He also urged citizens not to act out any violence towards persons of other faiths.
On Easter Sunday, Pope Francis said he is close with Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and expressed his “heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [of Sri Lanka], wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence.” On Easter Monday, the Holy Father urged the international community to offer all necessary help to Sri Lanka, he also said not to hesitate to condemn the terrorists and reminded all that inhumane acts are never justifiable.
Bishops across Asia have also risen to the aid of Sri Lanka. The president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, Cardinal Charles Bo of Mayanmar wrote to Cardinal Ranjith: “Allow me to express my sincere anguish at this tragedy that has taken the toll on scores of innocent human lives on the very day when we celebrate world over the victory of life and goodness over death and evil.”
Cardinal Bo also offered his fraternal support and prayers for all involved, especially the victims and families and now the caregivers. “We need to plead the mercy seat of the Risen Lord Jesus, the Prince of Hope and Peace, to strengthen all people of good will to help stabilize the situation of fear and suspicion that has arisen following the blasts,” he prayed.
The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, also wrote to Cardinal Ranjith expressing his sorrow over the attacks. “We offer our prayerful solidarity with the families of the victims and the survivors of the church bombings. On this great feast of hope of the Resurrection, our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka are devastated by this senseless violence. We pray to the Risen Jesus for peace,” he wrote.
Many took to Twitter to express concern, sadness, solidarity, and help for Sri Lanka and all its victims.
Pope Francis, from his @Pontifex account, has tweeted once about Sri Lanka explicitly and again in a more implicit way.
As so many mourning their beloved dead, may we also aid them with our prayers and solidarity.