Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka has celebrated this year’s Easter Mass with a call to forgive and say no to selfishness which he said “could have been the response as human beings” but thanks to the Christian faith, Sri Lankans “paid attention to the message of Christ and loved those enemies who killed them”.

Marking the one-year anniversary of the deadly suicide bombings on Easter Sunday April 21, 2019, the Cardinal said:

“It is human nature to hurt people through anger, but we have given up that human nature and chosen the life of the Resurrection of the Lord. Resurrection is the complete rejection of selfishness. We had pity on them and asked them not to repeat such things. We have taught them that lesson, not hating anyone in any way. This is what civilization means and that is the Resurrection.”

The suicide bombings killed 279 people and wounded more than 500 at three churches and three hotels. Mass attendance at one of the churches affected is 80 percent back to normal, according to the parish priest, who says Aid to the Church in Need’s help is proving crucial for people’s recovery from trauma and bereavement.

In an interview to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Father Jude Fernando, rector of St Anthony’s Shrine, Colombo, thanked the organization for providing counselling services for victims of the bomb blasts. At St Anthony’s parish, 55 people died and 138 were injured; and there were more victims at Easter Day services in Batticaloa and Negombo, where St. Sebastian’s Church was a target.

Father Fernando said for many of the victims the road to recovery has been slow and painful. In response, ACN funded 40 certified therapists to help people, including the bereaved and a further 300 specialists have been trained with the charity’s support to provide psychological help for 2,000 people, adults and children.

Thanking ACN, Father Fernando said: “The way we experienced your solidarity is highly appreciated. You have joined your prayers with ours. You shared in our pain and suffering. We will never forget your contributions in word and deed.”

Father Fernando stressed that people were still a long way from recovery and thanked ACN for backing a new counselling project, this time aimed at caring for the needs of priests. The shrine director said: “The priests need help. If we are to be strong for others, we need to be strong ourselves. If we are weak, the people will remain weak.”