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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 949

Apostolic Nuncio Briefed: Shelling of Sacred Madhu Church a Brazen Canard, Acting Minister Hussein Bhaila

Colombo, 09 April, (Asiantribune.com): The brazen canard perpetrated by some that the sacred Madhu church was shelled by the army was a total fabrication. The Government categorically denied allegations emanating from certain quarters that Sri Lankan security forces have been shelling the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, sacred to the Catholic community, and held in high esteem by all communities in Sri Lanka. Acting Foreign Minister, Hussein A. Bhaila met the Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignor Mario Zenari at the Foreign Ministry today (08 April 2008) and briefed him on the present situation at the Madhu Shrine. The Acting Minister informed the Apostolic Nuncio, that the LTTE has brazenly violated the sanctity of the Shrine by its use of the Church precincts for hostile action, despite the fervent and repeated appeals, both by the Bishop of Mannar and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

Notwithstanding repeated provocations by the LTTE, which has been attacking the security forces from the vicinity of the Church, including the deployment of heavy mortars, the government forces have not returned fire, in order to avoid causing damage to the Sacred Shrine.

It is clear that the LTTE is resorting to its now familiar and sinister ploy of deliberately spreading calumny through its well-oiled propaganda machinery to mislead the people of Sri Lanka and the international community.

The LTTE has cynically manipulated the situation at the Madhu Shrine, which resulted in the priests having to vacate the Church premises, taking the Sacred Statue of Our Lady of Madhu with them. It is highly questionable whether there was any compelling need to move the Statue to a location deep inside the uncleared areas, whereas it would have been logical to take it to Mannar, for safekeeping with the Bishop of Mannar.

Acting Minister Bhaila urged Msgr Zenari to use his good offices with the Catholic Church of Sri Lanka to exert pressure on the LTTE to immediately vacate the precincts of the Madhu Church and ensure the safe return of the Statue to the Madhu Shrine. The Apostolic Nuncio in response stated that the LTTE had blatantly breached the undertaking that they had given to avoid entering the Church precincts and initiating armed hostilities. He assured the Acting Minister that he would discuss this matter at a meeting with the Catholic Bishops in Kandy tomorrow and would also convey the Government’s position to the authorities at the Holy See. Msgr Zenari thanked Acting Minister, Bhaila for the high priority that the Government has accorded to resolving this issue and its concern for ensuring the sanctity of the Madhu Shrine.

The Government of Sri Lanka, elected by the democratic will of the people, is acutely conscious of the responsibility to protect all places of religious worship in the country. In this context, the LTTE’s barbaric track record of its brutal massacres of worshipers at the Sacred Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura, and the Meera Jummah Mosque in Kattankudy, as well as the desecration of the Sacred Temple of the Tooth, Sri Dalada Maligawa, stands out in sharp contrast.

The Government, consistent with the aspirations of all peace loving people of Sri Lanka, gives its solemn assurance that it is firmly committed to taking all measures necessary to safeguard the sanctity of the Madhu Shrine.

- Asian Tribune -

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