2nd Lead (adds corrections)
Sri Lanka Catholics to fast, pray for religious amity
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 27 January 2004, 15:07 GMT]
The Catholic Church of Sri Lanka has called for a day of fasting and prayer next Sunday, 1 February 2004, and to bring back religious tolerance in the hearts of Sri Lankan people. The Archbishop of Colombo Rt.Rev. Oswald Gomis has appealed to all Catholics in the country to conduct special Holy Hour Prayers with the exposition of Blessed Sacrament.
The Archbishop’s call comes amidst growing religious tension and attacks on several churches in the south of the country, sources said.
Religious tension began in the south with the sudden death of a leading Buddhist priest Venerable Gangodawila Soma Thera while staying in Russia. Several Buddhist organizations demanded that the government should bring necessary legislation to ban ‘unethical’ conversions from one religion to another and also to conduct a full scale investigation to unravel the mystery death of the Venerable Somarama Thera.
Several Buddhist priests and organizations alleged that the death of Venerable Soma Thera was due to poisoning.
Meanwhile Colombo’s Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) Dr.Ananda Samarasekara testifying at the inquest held into the death of Venerable Soma Thera in Negombo magistrate’s court Monday said the death of the priest was not caused by poison substance entering his body. He added a team of medical officers conducted the autopsy on the body on the direction of the Gampaha Magistrate. Magistrate M Kanthi Wanigasekara put off the further inquiry for February 10, legal sources said.