By Robin Gomes
A Catholic church north of the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, was re-consecrated on Sunday, three months after it was badly damaged in a string of suicide bombings on Easter Sunday that rocked the Indian island nation.
St Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya, Negombo city, unveiled a stone monument inscribed with the names of 114 people who were killed in the April 21 attack, during the re-consecration ceremony that included Holy Mass.
The coordinated attacks on three churches and four upscale hotels by a group said to have links with the so-called Islamic State (IS), killed 259 people and injured some 500.
Two of them were Catholic churches – St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo. Another blast at the Evangelical Zion Church in the eastern coastal city of Batticaloa also claimed numerous lives.
Most of the casualties took place at St. Sebastian’s Church.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith the Archbishop of Colombo presided over the Mass and the re-consecration service with a large number of people, including the victims’ families, in attendance.
The Sri Lankan navy helped rebuild the church.
Addressing the gathering at the re-consecration ceremony, Cardinal Ranjith questioned the ongoing probe into the blasts and said he feared that the investigation “will be brushed under the carpet”.
The 71-year-old cardinal has been criticizing the government for alleged culpability in the Easter Sunday bombings that he maintains could have been prevented.
"They had been informed about the attacks more than three times by the High Commission of India,” he said.
"The current leaders have failed. They have no backbone. They must leave the government and go home and allow someone else to govern the country," the cardinal said.
In the aftermath of the attacks, the Catholic Church has received about €1.77 million in donations locally and from around the world, which will be used to support orphaned children, educate affected children, help the families of the victims and the physical and mental rehabilitation of the survivors. A part of the fund will also help rebuild the Evangelical Zion Church.