04/14/2009, 00.00
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Bishops of Sri Lanka: Prayers to the risen Christ for peace and unity in the country

by Melani Manel Perera
Christian leaders are calling for an end to the conflict and suffering for the civil Tamil population. Today the rebel militias have asked for a lasting ceasefire, and the resumption of peace talks. The government says that any negotiations depend on the rebels laying down their weapons.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Easter recalls the victory of Jesus Christ, the living God, over the forces of darkness and destruction. Looking at Christ, humanity can rise again to a new life by overcoming the logic of death, war, and division. This is the message issued on the occasion of the Easter celebrations by Oswald Gomis, the archbishop of Colombo, Anglican bishop Duleep de Chickera, and Fr. Sebastian Maria Anthony, superior general of the Jesuits of Sri Lanka, who asks for "peace in the country, and the end of the suffering for the civil population."

Today, the Tamil rebel militias announced that they want to negotiate a ceasefire with the government forces, and resume the peace talks, to put an end to the decades of bloody conflict on the island. The Tamil Tigers are asking for a long term ceasefire, under the supervision of the international community. The Sinhalese government has rejected the request, saying that the rebels must lay down their weapons before any negotiations can be undertaken.

The archbishop of Colombo recalls that with war, "no lasting results are obtained," because the peace and prosperity of the nation "can be built only with dialogue." "As we enter this Easter," Archbishop Gomis says, "all Sri Lankans are experiencing the dangers of the war, the sorrows and pains of the internally displaced people, and the harsh reality of the anti-conversion bill."

The archbishop is reiterating the Church's efforts "to uproot" the sufferings of the population, which does not want to perpetuate "an ethnic conflict." "We strongly condemn every and each effort which is trying to fulfill narrow goals by keeping innocent Tamil civilians as human shield," he continues. Archbishop Gomis is also calling for a "political solution" to put an end to the civil war.

Peace and justice in the country are at the center of the message from Anglican bishop Duleep De Chickera. "The good news of Easter," he affirms, "is a call to transformation for all our leaders and people. But for this to happen, we need to engage in self-scrutiny." only this will make it possible to "put an end to the suffering" of the refugees, the civilians, the poor, and the unemployed. The Anglican bishop recalls those who are hit by the economic crisis and the young people, whose difficulties endanger "the future development of the nation." He also defends the right of "freedom of expression," and the possibility of "expressing disagreement" in civil and democratic terms.

Fr. Sebastian Maria Anthony, superior general of the Jesuits of Sri Lanka, issues a warning for the unity of the country: "Let not our caste, creed, ethnic and linguistic identities prevent us from exercising our Identity as children of God - brothers and sisters of the Risen Christ." "Let the Risen Christ," he continues, "give us the power to transcend the identities that limit and prevent us from working for a just and humane society. Let the Risen Christ give us the power and courage to speak for the voiceless and marginalised brothers and sisters of our country. Let the Risen Christ empower us to work for reconciliation and peace."

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