08/17/2009, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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From Our Lady of Madhu a task for Christians in Sri Lanka: Peace between Sinhalese and Tamils

by Melani Manel Perera
The appeal of Msgr. Ranjith, the new Archbishop of Colombo: "It's time to put justice into practise". Sinhalese and Tamils together at Sri Lanka’s most famous shrine. The thoughts of the pilgrims turn to the refugees who still live in the area and whose conditions are worsening as monsoon rains crash down on the refugee camps.

Madhu (AsiaNews) - “May the peace that you share today in the Holy Eucharist flow into your families, work places, parishes and villages. Now it is time to put justice into practice , first in your life and then in the country”. This is the task given to the Christians in Sri Lanka by Msgr. Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, before Our Lady of Madhu.

The new leader of the capital’s Archdiocese made this heartfelt invitation to the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who arrived August 15 at the most famous Catholic shrine in Sri Lanka. "The divisions among us - said Msgr. Ranjith -  were the only cause of the bloodshed occurred in the north and across the country”.

After thirty years, Sri Lankan Catholics and non-Catholics were able to reach the sanctuary of Our Lady of Madhu and respect a tradition that has lasted 400 years. The war between Tamil Tigers and the military had made the place of worship dedicated to Our Lady inaccessible for a long time. Thanks to the end of conflict and cooperation offered by the government, the pilgrims have returned to the sanctuary and chants and prayers in Sinhalese and Tamil have once again echoed in the shrine. The two ethnic groups paid tribute to the Virgin and together with them also Muslims and some Buddhist monks.

 

To reach the shrine the pilgrims crossed areas in which hundreds of thousands of war refugees still live. The thoughts of all the faithful went to the living conditions in which refugees still live five months after the end of the war.

Speaking to the faithful, Mgr. Thomas Savundaranayagam, Bishop of Jaffna, said: "You have now experienced the tragic situation in which they live in refugee camps". Referring to the difficulties suffered by the pilgrims for the monsoon rains falling in the area, he urged the faithful to empathise with the suffering of the refugees.  

Archbishop Ranjith has once again invited the authorities to accelerate the return of Tamil refugees to their villages of origin. The government in Colombo continues to postpone the dismantling of camps, arguing that the procedure of de-mining in the territories of the north is taking longer than expected, as well as identifying Tamil Tiger supporters among the refugees.

"Even if there are difficulties and challenges to be overcome to bring the refugees home - said the Archbishop of Colombo – we must do everything we can to enable them to start a new life. Many of them are innocent and never took up arms".

 
 
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