As Christians all over the world streamed into churches and sat down to bountiful Easter feasts, Sri Lanka was filled with booming blasts and anguished cries. Eight explosions rocked the country, targeting churches and hotels. At least 290 people died, and more than 450 were wounded.
With his eyes downcast and his voice low, Pope Francis addressed the tragedy during his Easter message yesterday. “I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [of Sri Lanka], wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence,” he said sorrowfully. The Holy Father denouncing the disaster, he described the coordinated attacks as “horrendous,” saying that the bombings “have wrought grief and sorrow” in his speech delivered from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.
“I entrust to the Lord all who so tragically died, and I pray for the wounded and all those who suffer because of this traumatic event,” Pope Francis added.
The Pope’s comments on Sri Lanka were added to his pre-written speech moments after its conclusion.
His nine-minute address was mostly a call for prayer to conflict zones and hotspots all over the world including Sudan, Mali, Ukraine, and Nicaragua. He prayed that Jesus’ resurrection could ignite humanity to open its hearts to the vulnerable especially to “all those who knock at our door in search of bread, refuge and the recognition of their dignity.” Once again, the Pontiff echoed his call for the people to become builders of bridges: “May he make us builders of bridges, not walls.”
The Holy Father reminded the faithful not to be indifferent to conflicts and to renew their commitments to looking for political solutions that will give freedom, peace, and justice to areas where conflict and war is happening.
Sri Lanka Blasts
Unknown attackers set off at least eight explosives that hit churches in Sri Lanka, with the first blast rocking St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo and buildings in the surrounding area. A second explosion was reported at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, while a third one targeted an evangelical church in Batticaloa. All explosions happened as Easter services were beginning.
Aside from the churches, four hotels in Colombo, including Shangri-La Kingsbury, and Cinnamon Grand were struck with bombings around the same time on Sunday morning. Reports said at least nine foreigners were killed in the attacks caused by suicide bombers.
The Sri Lanka attacks were a truly disheartening event for Catholics around the world as it came after the tragic fire that almost razed the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. My Pope sends its heartfelt sympathies and prayers to all the victims of this cruel act of violence.