Card. Filoni brings Pope Francis' loving caress to victims of Sri Lanka massacre (Photos)

The prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples met with wounded and survivors.  He presided over the laying of the foundation stone of the reconstruction works in the sanctuary of St. Anthony and in the church of St. Sebastian.  His presence was a source of consolation for Catholics.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Card.  Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, visited Sri Lanka from May 22 to 24.  Accompanied by Card.  Malcom Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, he went to the places where the Easter terrorist massacres took place, which killed 257 people, mostly Catholics.  Here he prayed with the survivors and relatives of the victims.  

Speaking to AsiaNews Fr.  Mahendra Gunatilleke, national director of Caritas Sri Lanka, says: "The cardinal brought the loving caress of Pope Francis, head of the universal Church".

On 21 April, a group of suicide bombers blew themselves up in three churches and three luxury hotels in the island's capital.  The churches targeted were: the sanctuary of St. Anthony in Kochchikade (Colombo), the church of St. Sebastian in Negombo, the evangelical church of Zion in Batticaloa.

Card  Filoni arrived in Sri Lanka after having participated in the celebrations for the 350th anniversary of the apostolic vicariate of Siam, in Thailand.  Here he launched an appeal to be a missionary Church, reaffirming "the need for evangelization that is not just a facade, but able to propose Jesus Christ with courage even outside of the realm of  Catholic schools and institutions".

On May 22, card.  Filoni presided over the laying of the first stone of the reconstruction of the sanctuary of St. Anthony.  Later he met the population, including several wounded, and the workers involved in the restoration work.  The next day he went to the church of St. Sebastian, where he repeated the ceremony of laying the first stone of the new cemetery chapel.  Finally yesterday he brought the Pope's closeness to bishops, priests and religious.