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    » 08/23/2008, 00.00


    Sri Lankan Catholics go on a pilgrimage from north to south for peace

    Melani Manel Perera

    March participants, 25 nuns and men religious, want to pass on a message of “peace and harmony” to the nation so that “love for life” may overcome the abhorrent logic of war.
     Dalupotha (AsiaNews) – “The civil war has ruined the lives of over a million people in every ethnic group. Nights have been dangerous and the rising sun has not brought much more security, especially in the northern part of the country. Often I have had to lift hundreds of dead bodies: soldiers, Tamil Tiger rebels or Tamil and Sinhalese civilians,” said Fr R.J.E. Jayaseelan, OMI.

    He spoke at a prayer vigil held today at St Anthony’s Church in Dalupotha during a meeting that brought together more than 500 people—students, members of religious congregations, teachers and ordinary people—in a parish in Colombo diocese. The theme of the event was “Let Us Protect Life”.

    “We must cleanse our hearts and promote mutual forgiveness by invoking the help and protection of the Virgin Mary,” said Father R J E Jayaseelan, a professor at the local university.

    In order to encourage peace and harmony Fr Alfred Alexander, an ethnic Tamil, endorsed a “symbolic pilgrimage” that left St Mary Cathedral yesterday (diocese of Chilaw) across the length of the island nation, from north to south.

    A group of about 25 people, including priests and nuns, took to the road; their goal is to pass on a message of peace and harmony to the entire nation.

    “We are not interested in getting more people to join the march,” Father Alfred explained. “Our action is symbolic; to walk from north to south as a way to show solidarity to the people we meet along our path.”

    In the past “both sides made mistakes,” he added. “This must be acknowledged and accepted. Now it is time however to look forward and promote a logic of life through this march. And to accomplish it I put myself into God’s hands, totally.”

    “Our goal is to spread the idea that the war can be stopped through power sharing which preserves national unity’ said Fr Tissa Balasooriya during the prayer vigil. “Pressure can be brought on the rebels so that they can lay down their arms.”

    Christians must take the lead in this and ask the “government and the opposition to find a common solution.”

    Tomorrow the pilgrimage for peace will reach Our Lady of Sri Lanka. A Mass will be held there. The rosary will also be recited for a special purpose, namely to get God’s and the Virgin Mary’s blessing for the “whole country and its people, whatever their ethnic background or religious creed.”

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    See also

    25/06/2009 SRI LANKA
    Six priests held prisoner and in solitary confinement in refugee camps
    Four priests of the diocese of Jaffna and 2 OMI missionaries who lived among the Tamil population until the last moments of the war. The conditions are on the verge of collapse and humanitarian organizations have their hands tied. The Army oversees the refugees in search of traces of the Tamil Tigers.

    28/11/2006 SRI LANKA
    Jaffna Church trusts government; not so the Tigers

    The bishop of Jaffna said he believed a government proposal to reopen the A9 to deliver aid to the Tamils was "sincere". But the leader of the rebels has charged Colombo with using the peace process to conceal its desire to annihilate the ethnic minority.

    19/08/2006 SRI LANKA
    Jaffna priests: save us from silence and death

    The appeal to stop the conflict is aimed especially at the EU, the United States, Norway and Japan. Within a week, 90 civilians were killed, 150 injured and 25,000 people were displaced.

    26/11/2004 VATICAN - ASIA
    Consecrated life: bearing witness is more than a job
    At World Congress on Consecrated Life, men and women religious debate the future: yes to providing services and assistance but the Holy Spirit is necessary, too.

    10/02/2009 SRI LANKA
    Religious personnel under Wanni bombings
    Hundreds of thousands of people are trapped in the war zone. There is a lack of food in Wanni: over the past 10 days, only 8 aid trucks have been sent for 250,000 people. No one can enter the refugee centers managed by the government.

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