Featured Image

April 23, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Two respected cardinals known for their defense of the Catholic faith spoke out about the horrific Easter Sunday bomb attacks in Sri Lanka.

Cardinal Robert Sarah condemned “barbaric Islamist violence” on Monday in a tweet and Cardinal Joseph Zen tweeted that the attacks are a call to prayer for all persecuted Christians.

PETITION: Tell UN Chief to condemn anti-Christian attacks in Sri Lanka. Sign the petition here.

“As we celebrate the resurrection of the son of God, the terrible attacks in Sri Lanka once again show how the followers of Christ are all over the world the victims of wild and foolish deeds,” Sarah tweeted. “I condemn this barbaric Islamist violence. Pray. + RS.”

“Pray for all Christians under persecution, especially in Sri Lanka and Mainland China,” tweeted Zen, then adding the hashtags #srilanka #china #persecution.

More than 320 people were killed and approximately 500 injured Sunday in bomb attacks carried out by at least six suicide bombers during Easter services at three churches and three hotels. Two of the churches were Catholic, the third a Christian church. The BBC reported a total of eight blasts and an attack on a fourth hotel that was thwarted.

Tuesday was declared a national day of mourning as the country held its first mass funeral after the bombings.

A state of emergency also remained in effect as police detained 40 suspects in connection with the attack, all of whom were Sri Lankan nationals. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said at a press conference that there are “still people on the run with explosives.”

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Easter bombings Tuesday, saying via its news agency Amaq that “Islamic State fighters” conducted the attacks. 

The group’s statement said the bombings had targeted Christians and citizens of countries belonging to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS.

The Sri Lankan government said it had information indicating the attacks were retaliation for a gunman killing 50 people and injuring dozens of others last month at two New Zealand mosques, and that it might have been not just one but two Islamist groups involved in the Easter bombings.

The Sri Lanka attacks come amid calls for more acknowledgement of and response to Christian persecution in the United States and worldwide in recent years.

In the case of the Sri Lanka attacks, former U.S. President Barack Obama, previous U.S. Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and others were the object of widespread criticism for their injudicious labeling to the many people killed during Easter Mass and services as “Easter worshippers” and not Christians.

In another example involving media, the ongoing spate of church desecrations in France, the overwhelming majority of which are Christian, has been largely ignored in media coverage.

And last week on Monday of Holy Week as the historic Notre Dame de Paris went up in flames, authorities were quick to say they were treating the fire as accidental – even as it was still in progress and before an investigation could commence. The cause of the fire remains undetermined.

Cardinal Sarah’s condemnation of the Sri Lankan bombings and mention of its connection to radical Islamists stands in contrast to the frequent failure of the media, authorities, and many Church leaders to cite Islamist terror groups in instances where the groups commit violence.

In Cardinal Sarah’s tweet, he included the widely-shared photo of a statue of Jesus that was spattered extensively with the blood of terror victims from one of the Sri Lankan churches that was bombed.

Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has continually spoken with clarity in defense of the Church and her principles in regard to liturgy and doctrine.

Zen, the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, has been an outspoken advocate of the persecuted Catholic Church in China while also criticizing the Vatican’s controversial ceding of its autonomy and authority with the Church to the Communist regime there.

Pope Francis denounced the “grave attacks” as cruel violence Sunday, pledged his closeness and solidarity with Sri Lanka, and “pray(ed) for the numerous victims and injured” Monday.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCSL) condemned the attacks, called for the government to conduct an immediate investigation and urged citizens to maintain calm.

On Sunday, Sri Lanka’s most senior prelate spoke bluntly in deploring the attackers behind the bombings, calling upon the government to find them and “punish them mercilessly.”

“I would also like to ask the government to hold a very impartial strong inquiry and find out who is responsible behind this act and also to punish them mercilessly, because only animals can behave like that,” said Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo.

He conveyed his “deepest sorrow and sympathy” for those affected by the bombings and also pressed for calm, saying “I ask all our Sri Lankan people not to take the law into their own hands and to maintain peace and harmony in this country.”