Cardinal to discuss Easter probe with Pope

 Buddhika Samaraweera

Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, who is currently in Rome, is scheduled to meet with His Holiness Pope Francis in the next few days, and the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 21 April 2019 and related investigations will be discussed at the meeting, according to the Catholic church.

Speaking to The Morning, Archdiocese of Colombo Social Communications Director Rev. Fr. Jude Chrishantha Fernando said: “The Cardinal left for Rome last week. Although no specific date has been scheduled yet, he will definitely meet the Pope there. At such a meeting the Pope will inevitably ask for information about the Sri Lankan Catholic church. Therefore, the Easter Sunday terror attacks and investigations into the same will definitely be discussed as it is the most talked about topic these days.”

Noting that certain parties have said that the Archbishop had left for Rome only to discuss issues related to the said terror attacks, he said that this is not such a visit and that cardinals from different parts of the world travel to Rome once a year for a number of purposes.

“Normally all cardinals visit Rome once a year. During such visits, they also visit countries such as France and Germany. They do not go to such countries officially, but if an acquaintance of a cardinal in that country invites, they have a visit to such countries” said Fr. Fernando.

Meanwhile, while claiming that all attempts made by the Catholic church to get justice for Easter Sunday terror attacks within the country have failed, Cardinal Ranjith last month said that they were currently exploring the possibilities to reach out to the international community, including the UN, seeking justice for the said terror attacks.

Speaking at an online meeting, he said: “We have tried our best to get justice from our people within our own context, but all these attempts have failed. Therefore, it does not leave us much room, but to explore the possibilities of going international. That means we will also be going to the UN.”

Pointing out that they, as the Catholic church, have links all over the world, the Archbishop said that they would also try to influence some pertinent and powerful countries that are in contact with the church. In addition, he said that in case they would be reaching out to the international community, such efforts would also be supported by his fellow cardinals around the world.

“Not only going to the UN; we will try to influence some of the more pertinent powerful countries that are in relationship with us, because as the Catholic church, we are an international organisation and we have our links all over the world. Also, at my level as a Cardinal, I have my fellow brothers who are cardinals in different important cities and countries with whom we will be able to do that,” the Cardinal said.

Cardinal Ranjith further said that he did not get into such action so far with the hope that this issue will somehow find a local solution, adding that it has now become apparent to them that nothing is happening. “In fact the legal system operated by the Attorney General does not seem to consider the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Easter Sunday terror attacks. Therefore, we are left with no other option, but to go to the international community.”

On 21 April 2019, Easter Sunday, three churches (St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya, St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade, and Zion Church in Batticaloa) and three luxury hotels in Colombo (Cinnamon Grand Colombo, The Kingsbury Colombo, and Shangri-La Colombo) were targeted in a series of co-ordinated suicide bombings. Later that day, another two bomb explosions took place at a house in Dematagoda and the Tropical Inn Lodge in Dehiwala. A total of 269 people excluding the bombers were killed in the bombings, including about 45 foreign nationals, while at least 500 were injured.

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