Bishop urges increased peace efforts in Sri Lanka

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Sri Lankan Bishop Harold Anthony Parera of Kurunegala stressed the need for more peace keeping efforts following the end of a civil war three years ago that ravaged the country.

“More must be done for the reconciliation in Sri Lanka,” Bishop Parera told International Catholic pastoral charity to Aid to the Church in Need.

“All of the parties concerned should take part in the peace process.”

According to the charity, estimates show that over 100,000 people were killed in the nearly 26-year conflict between the government of Colombo and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam who fought to establish their own estate.

The two groups starkly differ in language, culture, origin, and religion. While the Sinhalese government is predominately Buddhist, the liberation party is mostly Hindu.

In his remarks to Aid to the Church in Need, the bishop noted a small but significant number of local Catholics who could play a crucial role in reconciliation efforts.

Around 1.5 million of Sri Lanka's 20 million belong to the Catholic Church. In the Diocese of Kurunegala alone there are over 52,000 practicing Catholics.

The bishop reflected that after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, the country's Catholics rallied together to help those affected.

Bishop Parera, 61, has lead the 25-year-old Diocese of Kurunegala for over three years. He currently serves as president of Caritas Sri Lanka, which is known to have been instrumental in the island state's rebuilding efforts.

“At that time assistance from Caritas was provided to everyone, regardless of origin or religion,” the bishop said.

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