04/03/2019, 16.13
SRI LANKA
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Caritas Colombo promoting interfaith harmony

by Melani Manel Perera

Developing interfaith harmony is a project involving the residents of various villages near Negombo. For Seth Sarana director, getting the trust of the various communities was not easy. Buddhists and Muslims call for action “for future generations”.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Promoting interfaith dialogue at the diocesan level through activities for children, language courses for children and parents, and educational programmes for young people is an important goal for Seth Sarana Caritas, the social action arm of the Archdiocese of Colombo.

“Building up Inter-religious harmony in multi-ethnic and multi-religious communities in the Archdiocese is an important part of the works of Caritas-Seth Sarana,” said the charity’s director Fr Lawrence Ramanayake.

The priest spoke with the leaders of other religious groups at a meeting held on 28 March at the Cardinal Cooray Centre in Negombo.

Fr Ramanayake noted that in Colombo Caritas has worked with the leaders of other faith groups for the past five years. As a result of these efforts, seven village-level groups were established "to give answers to problems that arise".

Developing interfaith harmony is a project that involves the residents of Dalupatha, Periyammulla, Thillandduwa, Bolawalana and Kandasurindugama, in Negombo District, Colombo Archdiocese.

However, the Seth Sarana director admits that getting the trust of the various communities was not easy.

“Sometimes those who did not know us interpreted our activities as an attempt to convert,” Fr Ramanayake explained.

In other instances, “religious representatives took part in events without any real interest, and a deep dialogue was not established. Sometimes understanding and mutual trust are missing.”

Still, the inclusion of different religious groups and experiences has increased knowledge and curiosity towards others.

"Through the catechism, we have strengthened values ​​in our children and so a change of attitude was generated towards other religions. Now participants want to learn more about other cultures and faiths."

For Maulavi Abdul Rahuman, a Muslim leader, and Buddhist Venerable Atabaage Piyadhassi Thero, this means working together. "We will not live forever. Let's try to do something good for future generations,” they said.

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