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A priest arranges flowers at the site of a mass burial in Negombo, Sri Lanka A priest arranges flowers at the site of a mass burial in Negombo, Sri Lanka 

Sri Lanka: Interreligious dialogue vital to healing process

The Undersecretary at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue speaks about the importance of dialogue at this time of fear and insecurity in Sri Lanka.

By Lydia O'Kane

A nervous atmosphere continued Thursday in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo.

Following two security alerts, Sri Lankan authorities shut the entry road leading to the capital’s main airport and also locked down the central bank.

The road to the airport was re-opened later, but there was an unexplained explosion in a town east of the city. There were no casualties.

Police said 16 more people were detained for questioning overnight, following the attacks on three churches and four hotels that killed scores of people on Easter Sunday.

That brings the total number held since Sunday to 76.

Father Indunil Janakaratne is Undersecretary at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which sent its condolences to President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference in Sri Lanka following the attacks.

Asked why Christians were targeted on Easter Sunday, he said, “we have to look at the situation that is going on in the world today.” There is a “globalization of radicalization” adding, that innocent people get caught up in this because, “they are seen in this broader picture of the global system.”

The Undersecretary noted that the goal of these attacks were to “create disunity, disharmony among people and also to weaken the economy and “when the economy is weak there is also fertile ground for the growth of these movements.”

Importance of dialogue

Monsignor Janakaratne commented that the attacks had contributed to fear and insecurity and also prejudice among different communities in Sri Lanka.

But, he also underlined that interreligious dialogue has never been so vital. “Interreligious dialogue helps us to overcome these prejudices; interreligious dialogue also helps us to heal the wounds; interreligious dialogue helps us to build bridges,” he said.

Monsignor Janakaratne said that the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue stood ready to help the local church in promoting inter-religious dialogue.

Listen to the interview
25 April 2019, 13:40