Pastoral letter from the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka

Pastoral Letter read in all churches belonging to the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka on 7th April 2013:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We greet you in the name of our risen Lord and wish to address the faithful of our Churches during this season of Easter, When we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord signifying the final defeat of all that is evil and life denying.

We are living through an unfortunate time when there is an open hate campaign directed against the religious minorities living in this country. Many ordinary innocent people face mob violence and public ridicule and live amidst fear and suspicion, affecting their day to day life because of the faith they adhere to. We recognize that the Muslim community at the present moment is severely affected by this trend. We condemn this hate campaign that grows unchecked which could lead to a situation of anarchy and irreversible violence.

We need to be always conscious that as our Gospel demands to love our God we need to love our neighbours as well at all times. We believe that every human being is created in the image of God and therefore none should be treated in a derogating manner. Therefore it is our Christian duty to be with those who are persecuted and speak on behalf of them.

We also note that such attacks are directed against the Christian communities as well and we see sharp rise in such incidents in the past month. Many worship places have been violently attacked and worshiping communities have been harassed in numerous ways some of which have been meticulously planned. We are urging the authorities to ensure that law and order is maintained and to take appropriate preventive measures to stop such blatant hate campaigns. We call upon the Christian community to be engaged in continuous prayer specially upholding those directly affected and those who live and worship in vulnerable areas. We also need to pray for the perpetrators in a spirit of forgiveness and love. We need to be strong in the conviction of the presence of the Living saviour with us at this moment and be confident that the goodwill and harmony that has existed among the major religious communities will prevail over the hate campaign unleashed by a few.

We wish to assure you that as Heads of Churches along with the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka are taking appropriate steps to address these concerns and are making the necessary representations to the relevant authorities on the same.

We also take note of the fact that as a country we are going through a period of unfortunate humiliation in the international arena further aggravated by the recent happenings in India. We have called upon the religious leaders in India and very specifically Tamil Nadu, including the Christian community, to take adequate steps to revitalize the vibrant and cordial relationship that existed between the people of the two countries and to take adequate steps to prevent the violent attacks unleashed against the pilgrims, including members of the clergy, who go there to fulfil their religious obligations, especially from the Buddhists and the Roman Catholic communities. We have made representation to the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu as well.

We also recognize that a lot more needs to be done to promote authentic healing and reconciliation among the different ethnic and religious communities in this post war situation. We need to ensure that every citizen of this country needs to live with dignity and without fear, suspicion or want.

We as Christians, need to do everything possible within our means to foster justice, peace and harmony and to relieve the burdens of our people which is aggravated by the ever increasing cost of living. We need to work for the well being of our beloved country, Sri Lanka.

We urge our Churches to continuously pray and to be engaged in ecumenical prayer campaigns and jointly work for the above. In all the above mentioned situations, we need to be aware that it is the Gospel Imperative that the Christian Community be engaged continuously in the ministry of reconciliation. We assure you of our prayers and our vigilant response to the concerns expressed above. May the spirit of our God enable us to overcome the Challenges we are faced with today.

National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCS)

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