EXCLUSIVE: During the year since church and hotel bombings killed 259, Sri Lanka’s Catholic cardinal makes a potentially explosive claim about what lay behind them. Not simply, he says, an extremist outburst. He alleges a plot to ‘destabilise’ the country – and decries an ongoing government ‘whitewash’.

12 April 2020 By Paul Martin

Cardinal, what was your first reaction when you heard about the series of bombings hitting your own churches?

As soon as I heard about it, I had just come back from celebrating mass…. I never thought it could be such a big bomb.  I thought it was some underground people throwing hand-grenades….What I saw was terrible. It was not just an attack by some fanatics. It was a big plot intended to destabilise the ethnic balance in the country.

In 1983, when there were only 13 deaths.  The violence that was created in the country against the Tamils was very high … More than a thousand people were killed in those riots.

I felt the mob attack was aimed at destabilising all us and putting us in trouble…so immediately I appealed for calm.


How does one recover from that and how do you as a Christian encourage or help facilitate this recovery?

Myself I visited the families. I participated in the funerals.  I saw to the immediate needs of the people straight away.

There was a need to appeal for calm all the time. We were worried there could be religious riots in Negombo in the neighbourhoodCV where there is a Muslim community, so we had to prevent all of that.

You’ve been very critical of the regime… manipulating events.  Do you still have those views?

Investigations by the presidential commission and the parliamentary commission did not investigate certain political figures whose names have been mentioned in many quarters as having had links with this group. 

That causes a lot of suspicions in our minds.

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