Sri Lanka leaders light candles as Archbishop celebrates diversity at Sunday Mass after bombing

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s leaders lit candles at Sunday mass conducted by Catholic Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith in a service that was carried country-wide on multiple TV channels, with devotees being asked to stay away from Church amid fears of attacks by Islamic State-backed extremists.

President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa lit candles along with senior Catholic priests.

Archbishop Ranjith had drawn praise from across Sri Lanka for his words of forgiveness and unity after the blasts killed hundreds of worshipers at two Catholic churches in Colombo and an evangelical Church in the East.

"It is a great tragedy. It is an insult to humanity," he said.

In his sermon delivered in Sinhalese, English, and Tamil, the Archbishop said all people from different communities or parties should be valued, shortly before the country’s leaders came to light candles.

"Every person we meet at the workplace, on the road is a one of a million blessings," the Archbishop said. "It is a blessing to see people of so many colours and hues."

"That is why we cannot destroy another person in the name of god. It is a contradiction of to kill someone of the in the name of God; God who is merciful and God who has created my brother and sister."

He was preaching to a congregation made up of fellow priests, brothers and nuns.

Once he had asked a group of students what each one would do if a nuclear bomb wiped out everyone and left only the individual, the Archbishop recalled.

The student had said he may have to commit suicide.

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"We need others. God said we need others it is not good for man to be alone," Archbishop Ranjith said.

"Imagine how drab it would be if only coconut trees were there in the world."

Sri Lanka has emerged from a 30-year civil war in 2009  against the separatist Tamil Tigers who carried out terrorist attacks but also engaged in conventional warfare.

Islamic State, an extremist Jihadist group, has said its fighters carried out the attacks.

Religious and ethnic nationalism as seen during the last century emerged with the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires, political analysts have said, as feudal leadership gave way to the popular vote and also spread to other regions and empires which broke up later.

The European popular vote was usually based on the philosophies of liberalism, socialism but also nationalism and fascism, which was the easiest path to power.

Where urban intellectuals succeeded in promoting socialism there was economic decline but those where nationalism triumphed, saw bloodshed and minority persecution.

Nationalists hark back to some glorious past claiming ethno-religious homogeneity that is out of step with the demographic status of a post-independent nation and usually did not exist in the past, since demographics are not static and change rapidly across time.

The Islamic State group seems to operate on claims of a Pan-Islamic territory analysts have said, similar to a Pan-German third Reich claimed by Hitler’s National Socialists. (Colombo/Apr28/2019-SB)

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