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  • » 12/12/2008, 00.00


    In the future of Caritas, commitment to peace and reconciliation

    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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    See also

    27/01/2009 SRI LANKA
    Massacre of civilians, bishop of Jaffna calls for extension of buffer zone
    Hundreds of civilians dead, killed even in the "safety zone." The army and the Tamil Tigers are trading accusations. Bishop of Jaffna: the buffer zone must be extended immediately and respected, to save many lives.

    07/02/2009 SRI LANKA
    Situation worsens for civilians in Wanni
    About 250,000 refugees have nothing, and it is almost impossible to reach them with food. The only functioning hospital has been bombed, and its patients removed.

    26/11/2008 SRI LANKA
    Situation worsens for 300,000 refugees in Wanni
    In a war zone, people are living in temporary shelters with little food and little health care. There is even a lack of drinking water, and the risk of disease is growing. Humanitarian organizations criticize the government, and call for the sending of international observers.

    22/09/2008 SRI LANKA
    Catholics of Jaffna demonstrate for peace in northern part of country
    Hundreds march and pray for an end to the violence. Bishop of Mannar: the situation is increasingly difficult for 150,000 refugees, without shelter, food, medicine. Children are without milk and in danger of serious illness. "The very survival" of the refugees is in danger.

    19/02/2009 SRI LANKA
    Church of Colombo collects food and medicine for refugees from north
    An appeal from the archbishop, to "express our concern and solidarity with victims of the war on both sides at this juncture in a more concrete manner." The project is coordinated by Caritas-Seth Sarana. The products collected will be sent to refugee centers in the area of Vavuniya and Kilinochchi managed by the local dioceses.

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