Sri Lanka: Two Catholic churches suffer arson attacks

Source: FSSPX News


On Thursday January 15, a Catholic Church near Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, was attacked by arsonists, in the context of growing tension with a section of the Buddhist clergy, local police said.

The church of St. Michael of Katuwana, 25 km to the east of Colombo, was attacked by unknown persons who destroyed statues before starting the fire. A member of the clergy said that around twenty bonzes had come to the Church two months previously, accusing the priests of converting Buddhists. “They took down our crucifixes and hoisted a Buddhist flag. We lodged a complaint but no action was taken,” he added.

According to the Daily Mirror, edited in Colombo, six youths set fire to the village church of Hokandara in the region of Pannipitiya, on Sunday January 15. Catholic leaders have criticized the passive attitude of the police, recalling that it is the third aggression of this kind in the region. The group of arsonists had placed tyres in front of the door of the church of St. Anthony of Hokandara, and set fire to them.

The parish priest, Fr. Gregory Anthony Fernando, revealed that they entered the precincts of the church by cutting through the protective wire fencing. According to church sources, Buddhist monks are suspected of being behind this series of attacks.

Indeed, Buddhist monks have demanded an inquiry in to the death of an emblematic figure who was leading a campaign against Christians accused of converting Buddhists. This monk, Gangodawila Soma, died last month in Russia, where he was to receive the title of doctor honoris causa. Even though the autopsy revealed that he died of a heart attack, thousands of Buddhists attribute his death to Christians.

Buddhists represent 70% of the population of Sri Lanka, which has around 19 million inhabitants. They are campaigning for government legislation prohibiting conversions. Christian make up 6 to 7% of the population.

La Croix of January 22 reports renewed violence against Catholics in India. Three people, including a priest, have been killed, and several others wounded, at Jhabua in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The violence began after a young girl was found dead in the school of the Catholic mission, and the priest and the vicar were accused. Despite the arrest of the real culprit, the violence continues in the region.