04/21/2009, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Catholics and Anglicans remember Father Killi, martyr of war

by Melani Manel Perera
For friends and fellow clergymen Father Killi, a Claretian, is an example of Sinhalese-Tamil reconciliation. “Until the end he deeply believed that an actual solution could be found only through an ongoing dialogue” between the two groups, Father Iddamalgoda said.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – Fr Mariampillai Xavier Karunaratnam, known by everyone as Father Killi, spent a lifetime helping war victims in northern Sri Lanka. A year ago on 20 April, after celebrating mass in the Maangku’lam Church he set off for his parish church in Vannivi’laangku’lam. He was killed on the Mallaavi-Vavunikkulam Road at 12.30 by an explosion. Army and Tamil Tiger rebels have blamed each other for the death. A year to the day after his death friends, clergymen from the Catholic and Anglican Churches, parishioners, civil society activists and members of the Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM) gathered in the capital to remember him in a memorial ceremony.

Reverend Sathivel, Anglican, who opened the service, said in killing him the “assassins sought to kill truth, love and understanding.”

To AsiaNews he said that as the country anxiously waits for news from the north, “today we are all living in fear as the disciples did after Jesus was crucified.” However, “the Holy Spirit came upon them and their fear disappeared. They then set off to pursue Jesus’ mission.” 

Father Killi’s memorial service was held at the Centre for Society (CSR) Maradana in Colombo. Tamils and Sinhalese were present, a sign that Father Killi’s work towards reconciliation between the two groups was not in vane.  

A member of the Claretian order, the Tamil clergyman also headed an NGO, the North East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR).

His work was devoted to the needy people of Vanni, traumatised by 25 years of war, and to raising awareness about their situation among southerners.

For CSM coordinator Fr Sarath Iddamalgoda, Father Killi’s actions stand as an example of the only path that is open for a real solution to the conflict. 

“Until the end he deeply believed that an actual solution could be found only through an ongoing dialogue,” Father Iddamalgoda said. “And he personally tried to act as a bridge between the two communities. This unbreakable certainty is important for us today.”

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