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Cardinal backs Sri Lankan Bishops' pleas for peace

posted on 02 May 2006

The president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, has added his voice to that of the Sri Lanka’s Catholic bishops calling for a stop to the violence and killings there.


In a letter to Bishop Fernando Vianney, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka, the Cardinal sent his condolences to the bereaved and repeated the plea for peace he had made while visiting the island earlier this year.  


The Cardinal went to Sri Lanka over Christmas and New Year in the company of Cafod’s director, Chris Bain, to open new houses for victims of the tsunami.


But the visit was overshadowed by strains on the peace process and the prospect of a resumption of civil war.


Cafod said on Friday that Sri Lanka’s tsunami reconstruction and long-term development is being threatened by the recent increase in violence and current impasse in the ongoing peace process.


Air strikes by the Sri Lankan military in retaliation for a suicide bomb attack last week have forced thousands to flee their homes in the northern and eastern part of the country.


It is estimated around 20,000 people took refuge in the jungle and schools as the attacks were carried out, while expatriate advisors working with CAFOD partner Caritas were pulled out of Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Jaffna – although they have since returned.


Bishop Vianney thanked the Cardinal for his “kind message of sympathy and solidarity in the difficult situation our country is facing.”


Text of letters follows:


1. LETTER FROM CARDINAL CORMAC MURPHY-O’CONNOR TO BISHOP VIANNEY FERNANDO


Dear Bishop Fernando,


Together with the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, I write to offer our wholehearted support to the recent heartfelt plea from the Bishops Conference in Sri Lanka that there be an end to violence and killings in your country.


I repeat now what I said at the end of my visit after Christmas: “I want to add my voice to that of the Bishops Conference in Sri Lanka and other Christian leaders in calling on all parties to the conflict to desist from violence and earnestly to seek a political solution.”


Please be assured of my prayers and those of all the Bishops of England and Wales for you our brothers in the Episcopate as you lead and care for your people. With you we join in sending our condolences to those who have been bereaved and our prayers for the repose of the souls of those who have been killed.


May the greetings of the risen Lord,”Peace be with you” echo across your land and among the peoples of Sri Lanka.


With kindest wishes and prayers for you and your fellow Bishops.


Yours Sincerely in Jesus Christ


Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor


2. REPLY FROM BISHOP VIANNEY FERNANDO


Your Eminence,


Greetings.


This is to acknowledge with sincere thanks your kind message of sympathy and solidarity in the difficult situation our country is facing.


The recent escalation of violence and killing appears to have dimmed the hope of the peace  process progressing smoothly.


We can only hope and pray that this is not so and that despite the setbacks,  the peace process would be put back on track soon.


There is no other way for a lasting peace in the country.


With gratitude to your Eminence for your thoughtfulness, and in union of prayers.


Yours devotedly in the Lord,


Bishop Vianney Fernando


President, Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka

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posted on 02 May 2006

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