Dec 25, Colombo: As Sri Lankan Christians celebrate Christmas this year in the somber backdrop of the suicide bombings on Easter Sunday, the island nation's new Prime Minister assured his government's commitment to the "task of dispelling the darkness of religious terrorism" and to restore security and peace to the country.
Conveying his Christmas wishes to the nation, Prime Minister Rajapaksa noted that this year Christmas services in churches will be held amidst unprecedented security arrangements and requested all Christians in Sri Lanka is to exercise their freedom of worship, without allowing extremist forces to succeed in suppressing that freedom.
Full text of the Prime Minister's message:
I wish to convey my warmest felicitations to all Sri Lankans celebrating Christmas - the birth of the
Lord Jesus Christ. His Holiness Pope Francis described Christmas as 'the feast of faith in the Son of
God who became man in order to restore us to our filial dignity, lost through sin and disobedience'.
For Christians around the world, this is a time to celebrate the life and teachings of Jesus Christ - and
his message of compassion, courage and empathy. Christmas has also traditionally been a time of good
cheer and joyfulness with family gatherings, feasting the giving of presents and the midnight services in
Church. Children especially, look upon Christmas as the time Santa Claus comes visiting. Christmas
has always been a symbol of innocence and joy.
However, Sri Lankan Christians celebrate Christmas this year in the somber backdrop of the suicide
bombings on Easter Sunday which left hundreds dead and hundreds more injured or maimed for life.
Some of those injured in those dastardly attacks are still receiving treatment. The Christians of Sri
Lanka became the deliberate targets of religious fanatics who do not believe in the religious freedom of
others. This year, Christmas services in Church will be held amidst unprecedented security
arrangements due to the situation arising out of the Easter Sunday attacks. This is symbolic of the sad
plight that our motherland has been plunged into as a result of divisive and narrow minded politics
based on ethnicity and religion.
Though all Christians in Sri Lanka will be marking Christmas under a pall of gloom owing to the
barbaric attacks on Easter Sunday, they should be mindful of the words of the Gospel according to St
John which says 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it'.
The new government of Sri Lanka is committed to the task of dispelling the darkness of religious terrorism and
restoring security and peace to our motherland. My request to all Christians in Sri Lanka is to exercise
their freedom of worship, without allowing extremist forces to succeed in suppressing that freedom. I
wish all Sri Lankan Christians a holy and peaceful Christmas.