05/17/2010, 00.00
Send to a friend

Nuncio in Sri Lanka: "Together on the long road to peace "

by Melani Manel Perera
Archbishop Joseph Spiteri paid a pastoral visit to the north, recovering from a long civil war. He tells AsiaNews about his impressions and the challenges for the Church, and population in an area that is still very troubled.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – “The Church of Sri Lanka is making great strides in rebuilding not only the structures but also the lives of those who have suffered from a long civil war. But there is still a long way to go in the North, a road that we must travel together”.  These the comments of Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, Apostolic Nuncio in Sri Lanka, to AsiaNews after his visit to the Northern provinces of the island nation last week.

At the invitation of the Bishop of Jaffna, Mgr. Thomas Savundaranayagam, the Vatican diplomat made his pastoral visit to parishes, seminaries, orphanages and camps for the displaced in Jaffna, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Mannar. The nuncio said he was "satisfied by the Church's commitment to the victims of war. "

He adds: "There are negative aspects and positive aspects in this whole story, but much remains to be done. I wish everyone could look at this matter with an open mind, because it must be understood that it is not so easy to move entire communities around, overnight. We must find mature solutions .

In the presence of the Nuncio the project " Vic-Jaf Fishnet " was inaugurated, created by Caritas Jaffna: This is a structure that will help victims of war and the tsunami, giving them a way to maintain their livelihood. According to Mgr. Spiteri, " It is a great consolation since it gives a concrete help to the fishing community in Jaffna Peninsula”.

The archbishop spoke to AsiaNews about his impression from the visit to a province affected by the war: "Travelling along the very road that brings you there, my impressions were of mixed feelings: I saw buildings, including churches, destroyed by war, but I have also seen people that were rebuilding. It will take many years, of course, in order to reach a concrete result, but they are heading in the right direction".

The fact that the number of refugees in camps is declining, is comforting: "They can only stay in the camps for a short period. But the relocation process is slow because of land mines, which must be eliminated. We must assist these people in every possible way, help them organise their lives again".

For the Nuncio, the local Church "contributes to the welfare of people and the peace process, and this makes very happy. All Catholic structures - Caritas but also religious congregations, groups, human rights and those of volunteers - are doing their best to help victims. It is only natural that the Church does not take into account factors such as religion and nationality but commits to helping all in need. And this is clearer than ever here, in our help to Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. "

In its ongoing dialogue with the military, "the Church has taken the opportunity to develop renewed normality in the north of the country. The joint initiatives with the parishes in the south, and youth exchanges are admirable".  But the Vatican representative also stressed "cooperation with other facilities around the world. Our brothers and sisters in Australia and France are doing a lot for the Tamil community, and have made a substantial contribution to Caritas Internationalis development projects, the Italian community and churches in the U.S. continue their aid to Sri Lanka. "

This is particularly important "in light of the Sri Lanka Diaspora of our brethren to Western nations. The aid does not simply limit itself to reconstruction here, but also supports those forced to leave. "

As for the future "we must be realistic. A year after the end of the war, certainly a lot has been done for the country and its people. But the lives of victims of war have yet to be completely rebuilt, like the rest. We can say that we are on the right track, but what lies ahead is a long and complex road".



Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Jaffna bishop tells government that refugees must go home as soon as possible
Government plans "villages" for the 200,000 refugees of Vanni
Island of Iranaitheevu: Tamil Catholics camp old church, waiting for houses (Photos)
08/05/2018 15:31
Largest ever mass grave discovered in Mannar, Sri Lanka
22/11/2018 10:36
Military not returning land to 9,000 civil war displaced people in Jaffna
23/08/2016 13:16


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”