CV NEWS FEED // The Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, announced during Mass on Sunday that Church will begin the canonization process of the 273 people killed in 2019 on Easter Sunday by suicide bombers.
“A person can be named a saint only after the completion of 5 years since one’s sacrifice,” Cardinal Malcom Ranjith said during Mass on January 21, according to news outlet NDTV World. “Therefore, we will move towards declaring Easter Sunday victims as saints on April 21 this year.”
On April 21, Easter Sunday, 2019, nine suicide bombers affiliated with the Islamist terrorist group ISIS bombed two Catholic churches during Mass, one evangelical church, and four hotels in Sri Lanka. The bombers’ attacks wounded more than 500 people, and killed more than 260.
“Those who died in churches in April 2019 sacrificed their lives for what they believed in,” Ranjith said. “They came to church because they believed in Christ.”
According to NDTV World, Ranjith has spent the last five years at odds “with the government seeking justice for the victims. He slammed all investigations as a sham and a political cover-up.”
An extensive investigation has been underway since the attacks and the Sri Lankan government has arrested more than 1,000 people connected to the terrorist attack, including Sri Lanka’s then-Secretary of Defense and then-inspector general of police.
In January of 2023, the Sri Lankan Supreme Court sentenced the former President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena to pay a large fine to the bombing victims’ families. Ranjith called the ruling “historic” as the investigations indicated the government intelligence officials and the president had prior knowledge of the attacks, but failed to act.
Vatican News reported:
The Supreme Court’s verdict is a major breakthrough after nearly four years of deadlock in the investigation, in which the Church and families of the victims have insistently accused Sri Lankan authorities of having neglected intelligence reports on the impending terrorist attacks, and then of covering up the real culprits for political gain.
“According to the court’s verdict, Sirisena failed to prevent the massacre despite detailed intelligence reports suggesting such attacks were imminent,” Vatican News added:
The main perpetrator of the attacks, Zaharan Hashim, had been on the state’s watch list for several years.
Along with Sirisena, former Sri Lankan police, intelligence and defense chiefs have been held accountable for not adopting preventive measures and ordered to pay compensation to the relatives of the victims.
This is the first time a Sri Lankan head of state has been found guilty for failing to prevent a terrorist attack. Sirisena had already been held responsible over the massacre by a special presidential probe on the case, but had never faced trial.
Ranjith also organized a human chain initiative in April 2023 to call for more transparency, accountability, and justice from the government. “Men and women of all faiths joined hands and observed two minutes of silence on Friday, 21 April” last year forming a human chain more than 18 miles long, Vatican News reported.
Ranjith told Vatican Radio before the event, “The government, the security authorities, the intelligence services, have not done anything much on this matter and they have tried to put the blame on the Muslims and to say that it is the Muslims who did it.”
Vatican News reported:
But, the Cardinal continued, there is evidence and we have indications that the attacks were carried out by some fundamentalist extremists who were “facilitated by government sources and political parties in order to create Islamophobia in this country.”
The idea, he explained, was to make use of this [Islamophobia] in their push for power by gaining the votes of the majority Sinhalese community, by fueling anger against the Muslims.
“Now this attempt has been exposed, but we want that to be firmly and clearly found out,” Ranjith added. “We are asking for a fresh investigation, a transparent investigation.”