.- Following the Sri Lankan government’s declaration of an end to the country’s civil war, the Archbishop of Colombo called for forgiveness and unity. He also expressed his “deepest sympathies” to soldiers who died in battle and civilians trapped or killed by the war.
The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has assured the government that she will help build reconciliation and peace. The Church has also requested a speedy resolution for Tamil refugees, the protection of minority rights for ethnic and religious groups, and measures to ensure a “fair peace.”
Speaking on May 18, Archbishop of Colombo Oswald Gomis expressed happiness that the war has ended and that government security forces have been able to release all civilians trapped in battle.
“I congratulate His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapakse, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, for his very courageous leadership and thank the Chiefs of the Defense outfit who supported him with deep commitment and self-sacrifice,” he said. “I also offer my deepest sympathies to those who laid down their lives in battle and those innocent civilians killed, trapped in war.”
The archbishop said that in a sense the war is not ended and would end only when the country realizes “that we are all one people in one country with equal right.”
“We have to realize the fact that we are a multiethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural community. As such we are now left with the great task of nation-building, forgetting our ethnic, political and religious differences,” he remarked.
He advocated a “political formula” to inspire confidence among minority groups.
“We have to leave the sad and bitter memories of the past three decades and look positively and optimistically towards the future in hope. All of us have to share the blame for our division and forgive each other. We should have the humility and wisdom to learn from the sad experiences of that past,” Archbishop Gomis said, adding that only then will Sri Lanka have true peace and prosperity.