Peace in Sri Lanka hangs in the balance following the election victory of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last November. So too does the space for civil society activists such as Jehan Perera and his organisation, the National Peace Council (NPC).
Catherine Gorman from our Theology Programme reflects on the Doors of Mercy, where they can be seen in our world and how we can open them to others.
A couple of weeks’ ago I walked through the Door of Mercy at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark with CAFOD colleagues from all around the country. We were praying for refugees and migrants, forced to leave their homes in search of a better life. And as we heard the stories of our brothers and sisters from around the world, intertwined with Scripture, Catholic Social Teaching and prayers, we were moved – imagining ourselves in their shoes, and recognising the need for God’s mercy in our world.
As Pope Francis has said: “By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.” (Misericordiae Vultus #14)
As we passed through the door, I had a real sense that I and my colleagues were truly (re)committing ourselves to share God’s mercy with others, a sense that has stayed with me since.
After the end of the war in 2009, a rainbow coalition of political parties now provides the best option for sustainable peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
The contest for the island’s eighth Presidential Election began in November when incumbent Rajapaksa called snap polls, two years ahead of schedule. With no serious contender at that time, he was eyeing an unprecedented third term in office, least expecting his own Cabinet Minister Maithripala Sirisena to defect and emerge as a common candidate who would win the support of an eclectic joint opposition platform.
Mr. Sirisena’s departure not only prompted some of his colleagues to move with him, but also caused quite a flutter in the ruling camp. The subsequent turn of events — importantly, Tamil and Muslim parties pledging support to Mr. Sirisena — led to what was one of the most closely fought presidential elections in Sri Lanka’s history. Continue reading “Sri Lanka elections: peace and reconciliation”