Colombo, April 28 (IANS): Catholics in Sri Lanka followed televised religious services on Sunday as churches remained shut after the bishops’ conference decided to suspend mass until further notice due to fears of fresh attacks following the April 21 Easter Sunday bombings.
President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe attended a private ceremony – aired on radio and television across the nation – which was conducted by Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Ranjith, accompanied by other priests, reports Efe news.
Religious services were suspended by the Catholic church in the island nation over fears of fresh attacks, after 253 people died and more than 500 were wounded in a series of attacks on Easter Sunday.
During the Sunday sermon, Ranjith paid tribute to the victims of the tragedy and called the attacks “an insult to humanity” in the service.
“Today during this mass we are paying attention to last Sunday’s tragedy and we try to understand it.
“We pray that in this country there will be peace and co-existence and understanding each other without division,” he added.
Also on Sunday, people gathered for a public service outside the St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo – the site of one of the deadliest bombings, reports the BBC.
There, Buddhist monks joined Catholic priests for prayers in a show of solidarity with the Christian community.
The church’s bells tolled at 8.45 a.m., the exact moment a bomber detonated his device one week ago. The hands of its damaged clock tower are still stuck at that time.
Six coordinated explosions occurred on April 21 starting at 8.45 a.m. at three luxury hotels in Colombo and three churches across the country as they were holding Easter services.
Another blast later in the afternoon left two dead in a small hotel near Dehiwala Zoo, around 10 km south of the capital.
The eighth explosion killed three police officers at a residential complex in Dematagoda, Colombo.
The attacks were the deadliest in Sri Lanka since the end of the 1983-2009 civil war between Tamil Tigers and the government.