09/21/2006, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Catholic Church alarmed country might fall "into a state of anarchy"

The archbishop of Colombo voices local clergy's concerns about the escalating violence in the country's north-east, calling on the authorities to shed light on the disappearance of Fr Jim Brown.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The leaders of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka are increasingly alarmed by the escalation in "killings, abductions, disappearances and other forms of violence" that are taking place in the island-nation's north-east region. In a statement to the press, the Archbishop of Colombo Oswald Gomis reported the observations made in last Monday's meeting with the diocesan Council of Priests.

In the press release the prelate condemned the many incidents that have taken in last few months with "serious detriment to sacred human life, the peaceful co-existence between the various ethnic communities and the day-to-day living of the people".

At the meeting, the Council members remembered with" deep regret" the disappearance of their "brother priest, Fr Thiruchelvam Jim Brown, and his missionary assistant, Vimalathas.

The two men disappeared on August 20 in an area under the control of Sri Lankan Navy and have not been heard ever since.

With their statement Mgr Gomes and the priests of the diocese of Colombo join Mgr Thomas Savundranayagam, bishop of Jaffna, in his recent plea to President Mahinda Rajapakse to facilitate finding the two men. According to press reports, Mr Rajapakse pledged to set up an independent commission of inquiry to look into the matter.

The press release went on to urge the authorities to take "quick action to finalise this inquiry and make its findings available to the public"

Finally, after extending their solidarity to the clergy of Jaffna affected by the renewed fighting between the army and Tamil rebels, the priests of the diocese of Colombo urge the civilian authorities to enforce "the law without fear or favour"  so as to prevent the country from falling "into a state of anarchy". (SdS)

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