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Sri Lanka’s churches closed for second week

COLOMBO (UCAN): Sunday Masses were cancelled again in Sri Lanka as churches remained closed for a second week following the Easter Sunday suicide bombings on April 28 that killed more than 250 people.
 
Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, of Colombo, had previously announced that Sunday Masses would be held on May 5, but cancelled services after considering the latest security alert. Instead, he celebrated a televised, private Mass at the Archbishop’s House in Colombo.
 
Catholic schools remain closed until further notice but all government schools were due to reopen on May 6.
 
A police curfew was also imposed in Negombo on the night of May 5 after a clash between two groups in the Porutota-Kochchikade area. A military spokesperson told media that the fight was between ethnic Sinhalese people and Muslims. 
 
St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, was among the sites bombed in the Easter Sunday attacks. Cardinal Ranjith said that people could have chosen to stay home on that day, but they came to the church because of their love of God.
 
“These members of our community who sacrificed their lives, they are with God because they have passed away due to their strong faith,” he said during his televised Mass.
 
Cardinal Ranjith refused a bulletproof vehicle provided by the government.
 
“I don’t want a bulletproof vehicle, but I need security for the country,” he said at a special media briefing.
 
“The government must formulate a permanent plan of action to strengthen national security with the participation of all political parties to ensure that there is no repetition of such incidents,” he said.
 
“We appeal to the government on behalf of all religious leaders not to allow the destabilisation of the country to take place by creating dissension among different nationalities and those professing different faiths,” the cardinal said.
 
At the end of the Mass, Cardinal Ranjith read out a letter from Pope Francis, dated April 24, in which the pontiff wrote: “With the followers of all religions, and men and women of goodwill everywhere, we express horror at this unspeakable offense against the holy name of God and I pray that hearts hardened by hatred may yield to His will for peace and reconciliation among all his children.” 
 
The pope said, “Conscious of the wound inflicted on the entire nation, I likewise pray that all Sri Lankans will be affirmed in their resolve to foster social harmony, justice and peace.”

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