At the special invitation of Pope Francis, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, and a group of 56 others, including the bishops of Sri Lanka, left for the Vatican, April 22.
“The group left Katunayake International Airport in Colombo this morning on two planes to the Vatican,” Father Hemantha Perera, a priest of the Archdiocese of Colombo, told RVA News.
The delegation includes the cardinal, eight bishops, 18 priests and nuns, survivors of the Easter 2019 bomb blast- four from the Zion Church in Batticaloa, six from the Kochchikade Church in Colombo, and 20 others from the Katuwapitiya Church in Negombo.
Father Perera said that further details about the Sri Lankan delegations’ visit to the Vatican are awaited.
According to sources, the reason for the pope’s calling the delegation to the Vatican is reportedly related to Sri Lanka’s 2019 Easter Sunday bombings three years ago.
On April 21, 2019, Easter Sunday, three churches in Sri Lanka and four luxury hotels in the commercial capital, Colombo, and one housing complex were targeted in a series of coordinated Islamist terrorist suicide bombings, which killed 270 people.
This was the first major terrorist attack on the island nation since the end of the country’s civil war in 2009.
Church leaders in Sri Lanka, especially Cardinal Ranjith have repeatedly voiced concern about the tardy investigations carried out by the government.
One of his demands is to ascertain if government officials were negligent to act on the warning regarding the impending attacks. The cardinal said this in an earlier press conference in Colombo on March 14.
Over the last three years, the cardinal has said that investigations done by the authorities have many gaps and the families of the victims and survivors are still waiting for justice.
He also called the international community and organizations to help to expedite action on the Easter bombings.
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