50,000 Petition for Recognition of Sri Lankan Terror Attack Victims as Martyrs

50,000 Petition for Recognition of Sri Lankan Terror Attack Victims as Martyrs

Colombo - Over 50,000 Catholics have urged the Sri Lankan Church to recognize the 171 victims of the 2019 Easter massacre as martyrs.

On Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019, eight suicide bombers targeted two Catholic churches, a Protestant church, and three luxury hotels, resulting in 269 deaths and over 500 injuries.

Out of the total victims, 171 were Catholic worshippers attending Mass at St. Sebastian and St. Anthony Churches in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.

Five years after the incident, on Sunday, April 21, the local Church announced it would begin the process of recognizing the martyrdom of the 171 Catholics. The event was marked with various activities, including a petition with more than 50,000 signatures presented to the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith.

The Archdiocese of Colombo will submit an official request to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints to initiate the diocesan phase of the beatification process.

“The collection of signatures and raising awareness among the faithful have been ongoing since the beginning of Lent. People are fully aware of the gift of faith of those innocent people, murdered in church while celebrating the resurrection of Christ,” Father Jude Chrysantha Fernando, director of the archdiocese's communications office, told the Vatican news agency Fides from Colombo.

The priest mentioned that on Sunday, there was significant participation of the faithful in the memorial events. Morning Masses were held in all churches, and a special ceremony took place at St. Anthony Church in Colombo, attended by Cardinal Ranjith, along with other religious leaders and civil authorities.

In Colombo, thousands of people observed a "solemn two-minute moment of silence," which was also observed in churches across the country, to honor and remember those who lost their lives in the 2019 Easter attacks.

“It was a moment of great spiritual intensity for the Catholic community of Sri Lanka: The memory of these 'heroes of the faith' is alive and a source of inspiration for many,” Father Fernando told Fides.

During the Mass at St. Anthony Church, Cardinal Ranjith mentioned that the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has been seeking justice for five years and has called for an international and independent investigation into the 2019 attacks.

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