12/20/2019, 16.09
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Card Ranjith calls for a toned-down Christmas, urges visits to Easter Sunday attacks survivors

by Melani Manel Perera

The Archbishop of Colombo calls for greater protection of Masses on Christmas eve and day. He urges the faithful to avoid lavish celebrations out of respect from those who lost family and friends. Rediscovering the true meaning of Christmas is about "unity and sharing".

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Card Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, released his Christmas message today. In it he urges the faithful to visit the families of the victims and the survivors of the Easter Sunday attacks, and avoid lavish and immoderate celebrations that demean the true meaning of Christmas, which is God who becomes man in Christ for the salvation of the world.

Concerned about the safety of the Christian community, the cardinal, on behalf of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, also called upon the authorities to take greater security measures to protect the country’s churches. This follows reports about the possibility of new attacks against places of worship.

For its part, the Sri Lankan government has pledged to deploy more agents to guard churches to prevent attacks like those of 21 April, which left 263 people dead.

For the prelate, this year’s celebrations of the birth of Jesus ought to be restrained. Speaking about the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks, he notes “The unbridgeable vacuum created in their hearts by these losses, the pain and suffering of the injured, some of whose lives have been shattered beyond repair, and the little children whose parents will never return to them.”

“Christmas,” he explained, “should be a moment for us to reflect about and bear in mind this painful situation afflicting many of our brothers and sisters, to pray for them and for our beloved motherland, to commit ourselves to work for peace, harmony and reconciliation among the various communities living in Sri Lanka."

Mahinda Namal, editor of Kithusara, a Catholic paper, urges Christians “to reject the attempts at the commodification of Christmas that undermine the true meaning of the birth of Jesus.” For him, "Santa Claus has taken on a worldly meaning, becoming a commercial symbol. We should promote the wonderful meaning of Christmas as ‘God is love’ or ‘The feast of love’.”

In Negombo the local interfaith committee put on a play in the street, handing out leaflet in Tamil and Sinhalese. The latter read:

“Let's be a good example to the entire world through witnessing to the true Christmas message of unity and sharing".

“Let's tell people that Santa Claus is neither actor nor puppet, neither drunken man nor money collector." 

"Let’s all – Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Catholics – flock together and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas in this year 2019. Let's show the world the unity we enjoy even though we belong to different ethnic groups”.

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