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Church leaders express shock at Sri Lanka attacks

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South Australian Catholics have been urged to carry in their prayers members of the Sri Lankan community in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks which killed hundreds and wounded many more, including worshippers at Easter celebrations.

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“It is hard to conceive of the mentality that deliberated organisers, the murder of the innocent, for purposes that are indefensible,” said Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ, Apostolic Administrator of the Adelaide Archdiocese and Bishop of Port Pirie Diocese.

“Nothing justifies mayhem.

“There are numbers of Sri Lankan families in our South Australian community who have relatives afflicted by these recent actions.

“Please include them in your Masses and reach out to them.”

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge expressed shock at the attacks in Sri Lanka.

“Attacks such as this are always atrocious,” he said, “but especially when worshippers are the target and it’s the Resurrection they’re celebrating.

“We don’t know who planned the attack or what their motive may have been. But we do know that whoever’s responsible, this attack has something demonic about its planning and execution. We also know that violence like this won’t have the last word. That’s what Easter is about.”

Archbishop Coleridge said he will contact Church leaders in Sri Lanka as soon as possible and extend the sympathies and prayers of the Catholic Church in Australia.

He also expressed solidarity with the more than 22,000 Sri Lankan Catholics who now call Australia home, saying that the Catholic community in this country will rally around them in every way possible.

The Australian Council of Christians and Jews also expressed its horror at the killing of Christian worshippers on Easter Sunday, and “our anguish at the senseless, indiscriminate and savage killing of people of many nations and religions across the island”.

The Council has recently condemned the widespread growth of intolerance, racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia. “We join with religious leaders in Sri Lanka in calling for the appreciation of our common humanity,” the Council said.

“We express our deepest solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka who have survived years of civil strife and division in their attempt to embrace the multicultural and multi-faith reality of their society, and hope that this violence will bring the nation together in mourning and confirmation of our common humanity.

“Events such as this call on people of all faiths and none to redouble our opposition to all forms of violence rooted in bigotry and prejudice, and to insist that leaders promote the common good of everyone, and to recommit themselves to practising dialogue on all levels.”

Pope Francis also expressed words of solidarity at the conclusion of his Easter Urbi et Orbi address to the faithful in St Peter’s Square on Sunday.

“I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [of Sri Lanka], wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence.

“I entrust to the Lord all those who have tragically perished,” he said, “and I pray for the injured and all those who suffer as a result of this tragic event.”

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