11/30/2006, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Sri Lanka prepares for Christmas and peace

by Col Memara

In a message to lay people and religious, the archbishop of Colombo called for "intensification" of prayer for peace in the country, where civil war rages in the north and east. A candle should be lit before each crib as a symbol of union in prayer with the Child Jesus.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Throughout Advent, Sri Lanka's Catholics will focus on praying for peace in the country. In the north and east of the country, people are in dire straits, endangered by what is now all out civil war between the government forces and the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The Archbishop of Colombo, Mgr Oswald Gomis, urged all communities, religious and lay, to "intensify prayers for peace during Advent". The archbishop issued a message, inviting prayers and special spiritual exercises for peace in the country during the four weeks before Christmas.

In a message published in all Catholic media, he said: "The peace process in the country has reached a point of crisis. The much hoped for peace talks did not take place as anticipated and now thousands of our brothers and sisters in the north and the east are trapped between the warring groups, suffering immensely with shortages of even essential items."

Mgr Gomis asked the faithful to "make every Sunday a special day of prayer for peace and to have at least a half-hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament after Mass."

There will also be moments of silence dedicated to peace during public events and programs to prepare for the Christmas functions, like choir rehearsals in parishes.

Reciting the rosary in families was also stressed. The archbishop of Colombo asked families to dedicate at least one decade of the Marian prayer to peace and to "light a candle before every crib and to pray together to the Child of Bethlehem for peace in Sri Lanka."

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