The Catholic leader is protesting the lack of real freedom in the island nation
A woman vendor sells Sri Lankan national flags along a road in capital Colombo on Feb. 2 ahead of the country’s Independence Day celebrations. (Photo: AFP)
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo will not attend Sri Lanka’s official Independence Day ceremony on Feb. 4 because of the lack of “real freedom in the country.”
The announcement was made on Feb. 3 by Father Cyril Gamini, a member of the archdiocese’s committee on the search for the truth of the Easter Sunday attacks.
Father Gamini said Cardinal Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, will also not hold the traditional Mass on the special occasion at All Saints Church in Borella.
The decision was taken “because a bomb had been planted in the church and innocent people were being tortured,” he said.
A grenade was discovered at All Saints Church on Jan. 11, three days before Catholics in Sri Lanka marked the 1,000th day since the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings.
A caretaker of the church has been arrested in connection with the incident. Later a retired doctor was also arrested.
The government hosted a vigil service on Feb. 2 with the participation of Buddhist monks to mark Independence Day
Cardinal Ranjith has been critical of the government over the investigations into the bombings, which he claims did not reveal the real conspiracy.
He has also hinted that the grenade incident at the church could be politically motivated. He said there was no attempt by the police to uncover the truth behind the incident.
Father Gamini, though, said that as in the previous years, “this year too, Holy Mass will be held in all other parishes as per the tradition on Independence Day.”
The Sri Lankan government has announced that all arrangements were made to celebrate the 74th Independence Day with the president, prime minister and other national dignitaries, religious leaders and foreign ambassadors expected to be present at the official ceremony.
The government hosted a vigil service on Feb. 2 with the participation of Buddhist monks to mark Independence Day.
Defense Secretary Kamal Gunaratne said the event had been designed to showcase the nation’s pride and glory in line with Covid-19 guidelines.