12/12/2008, 00.00
SRI LANKA

In the future of Caritas, commitment to peace and reconciliation

by Melani Manel Perera
Fr. Oswald B. Firth, the former director of the charitable Catholic institution, hopes for a greater commitment to the renewal of Sri Lankan society. At the 40th anniversary of its foundation, he calls upon Caritas to support peace between the Tamil Tigers and the army: "people are exhausted with the war."

Colombo (AsiaNews) - "After 40 full years of existence, Caritas/SEDEC should ask itself, not merely what this institution has done, but what this institution is expected to be in the eyes of God and the people." The former director of the charitable institution of the Sri Lankan Catholic Church, Fr. Oswald B. Firth, tells AsiaNews about the future of Caritas in the country: "There is much to be done in the area of building peace and reconciliation. I get the feeling that people are exhausted with the war and are seeing through the terrible corruption of which they are the victims."

One of the founders of Caritas/SEDEC, Fr. Firth indicates among its objectives for the near future a commitment to making peace in the country, where the conflict between the Tamil Tigers and the Colombo army has been going on for 30 years. "There is a moral obligation on the part of the Bishops and Caritas to prepare the way for a new future and for the emergence of a new Sri Lanka."

The forty years it has spent helping the population has brought the Catholic organization respect and recognition. Fr. Firth says, "maybe this is the time when SEDEC could lead such a campaign calling for a just political solution to the crisis. Vision, wisdom and courage will be forthcoming once the initiative is launched. We need to trust in the goodness of people, that they all want peace for their families and for the country."

The former director of Caritas adds that the institution "does have the capacity to mobilize competent lawyers, university professors, members of the business community and right thinking politicians to study and propose changes to our constitution that will guarantee freedom in all its richness and opportunities to all citizens irrespective of language, racial or religious bias."

Fr. Firth affirms that SEDEC must not only "play the role of the Good Samaritan," but must "train people to listen to God's word that comes to us through the Bible as well as through events in daily life." The former director of Caritas explains that "only when we learn to listen to God speaking to us through daily events will be able to read the signs of the times in faith and respond accordingly."

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