03/21/2019, 14.25
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Card Ranjith to lead anti-drug march in Colombo

The event is scheduled for 31 March. The archbishop calls on all the parishes in the capital to join and to refuse communion to Catholic drug dealers who do not repent.

Colombo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Card. Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, plans to lead a silent march against drug trafficking in Colombo on 31 March. The prelate made the announcement yesterday at a press conference.

“If there are any Catholics known to be engaged in the drug trade and are not showing any signs of repentance, it is best that the parish churches do not welcome them and do not provide for them any rights that they may have as Catholics to receive holy communion or a burial with a service,” the archbishop said in an appeal to parishes.

Whilst Card Ranjith is the promoter of the event, other religious leaders will be present, including the Venerable Thambawita Gunawansa who said that Buddhists will attend the rally. Buddhism, the venerable explained, is a religion that holds that drugs are a social evil and should be eliminated from the world.

President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are also expected at the march. The former is behind the current campaign against drugs and drug trafficking, which in recent months has led to the arrest of numerous traffickers and the reintroduction of the death penalty for drug-related offences.

On 31 March, three groups of marchers will start from different points in the capital and converge in Vystwyke Park where a stage will be set up.

The cardinal calls on all the parishes of the archdiocese to join the event, organising groups of worshippers and priests after Sunday Mass.

Finally, the archbishop urges the Christian community to act responsibly. “Although the President had appointed a task force to combat drugs and many arrests have been made, we cannot let things slip away.

“We call upon Catholics and all men and women of goodwill to help the relevant agencies to be rid of this menace completely. It is our Christian duty as well,” he said.

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