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1 year after attacks, Sri Lankans mark Easter at home

April 12, 2020 GMT
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A Sri Lankan Catholic Church worker prepares for a Easter service at St.Anthony's church, one of the sites attacked during last year's Easter, during a curfew imposed to stop spreading of a new virus in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 12, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
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A Sri Lankan Catholic Church worker prepares for a Easter service at St.Anthony's church, one of the sites attacked during last year's Easter, during a curfew imposed to stop spreading of a new virus in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 12, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Christians in Sri Lanka celebrated Easter in their homes on Sunday, participating in religious services through television as churches remained closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

TV stations aired the Easter Vigil and Holy Mass in all three main languages used in the Indian Ocean island nation. But there were no organized events to remember the more than 260 people, mostly Catholics, who were killed in Islamic State group-inspired bomb attacks on three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka last Easter.

“Last year, some misguided youths attacked us and we as humans could have given a human and selfish response,” Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, said in his sermon at a Mass celebrated at his residence on Sunday.

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“But we mediated on Christ’s teachings and loved them, forgave them and had pity on them,” he said. “We did not hate them and return them the violence.”

Sri Lanka has been under curfew for most of the past three weeks. The Church is planning a private ceremony on April 21 — the anniversary of the 2019 attacks — to remember the dead.

Dushyanthan Niroshan, who works as a travel coordinator, said he participated in Holy Mass at home, but looked at it positively.

“It was more deep and meaningful,” he said. “This virus is a God-given opportunity to stop and think about our past lives.”

Sri Lanka has confirmed 199 cases of the coronavirus, including seven deaths.