August 26, 2013

Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka, expressed “shock and distress” in accusing the military of storming a Catholic church and firing on residents who had sought refuge there.

The cardinal condemned the army’s action in a strongly worded statement read Aug. 7 during the funeral for one of three people who died in the Aug. 1 incident at St. Anthony Parish in Weliweriya, a village just outside the capital.

Authorities said more than 50 people also were injured during the assault, which occurred as soldiers broke up a demonstration by villagers protesting a factory polluting a local water source.

“It was sacrilege for anyone to enter such sacred precincts with arms in their hands and to behave in a violent manner there,” Ranjith said at the funeral of Ravishan Perera, 18, a student at St. Peter’s College in Colombo who died after being shot in the head.