The Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, plans to initiate the canonization process for the victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday terrorist attack, seeking to declare them “martyrs of faith.” On April 21, exactly five years after the attack, a petition will be submitted to the Vatican for consideration by the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints. The attack, orchestrated by radical Islamist groups, claimed the lives of 269 individuals, including 216 Catholics. Despite the government’s response being criticized for lack of transparency and accountability, efforts towards justice have been ongoing. Pope Francis has urged the Sri Lankan government to identify and bring the perpetrators to justice. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith emphasizes the victims’ sacrifice as an act of faith, prioritizing their canonization.
The Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, is set to embark on the canonization process for the victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday terrorist attack. Father Joy Indika Perera, representing Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, confirmed the archdiocese’s plan to submit a petition to the Vatican, seeking to declare those killed in the attack as “martyrs of faith.”
The petition is scheduled to be submitted on April 21, marking precisely five years since the devastating attack occurred. This timeframe aligns with the Church’s requirement to commence a person’s canonization cause. The submission will be directed to the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Causes of Saints.
Tragic Events of Easter Sunday
On April 19, 2019, eight suicide bombers targeted multiple locations in Sri Lanka, including Catholic churches, an evangelical church, luxury hotels, and others, resulting in an estimated 269 deaths and over 500 injuries. Among the victims, 216 Catholics from St. Sebastian and St. Anthony churches were brutally killed.
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Following the attack, investigations revealed the involvement of local radical Islamist groups, aided by foreign entities. Criticism has been directed at the government’s handling of the incident, with accusations of withholding information. Efforts toward justice have been ongoing, including trials and legal actions.
Papal Call for Action
In April 2022, Pope Francis urged the Sri Lankan government to intensify efforts in identifying and bringing the perpetrators to justice. The Pope emphasized the importance of clarity and accountability for the sake of peace and justice.
Cardinal Ranjith underscores the victims’ sacrifice as an act of faith, expressing conviction that their deaths merit recognition as martyrs. He believes their willingness to participate in religious activities despite the risk signifies their dedication to their faith.
Path to Canonization
The Archdiocese hopes to receive approval from the Holy See for the canonization process. Upon approval, efforts will focus on beatification, considering the victims as Servants of God.
The initiative to canonize the victims of the Easter Sunday attack reflects the enduring faith and resilience of the Catholic community in Sri Lanka, honoring the memory of those who perished in the tragic event.
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