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Community members gather at Mass to pray for victims of Sri Lankan bombings

| Thursday, April 25, 2019

Members of different faith communities gathered for Mass on Wednesday evening in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to remember the victims of the Sri Lanka Easter bombing attacks and their families. University President Fr. John Jenkins presided.

The bombings, which killed over 350 people, targeted Christians celebrating Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. The attacks came at a time of heightened religious tensions both in Sri Lanka and around the world.

Fr. Robert Dowd, a professor of political science who concelebrated the Mass, said in his homily there is a gap between the will of God and the will of humankind.

“Even as we celebrate Easter — the Resurrection of the Lord —we are reminded that there is a gap: a gap between the way the world is, and the way God intends it to be,” he said.

Dowd said he encourages the Church to join with individuals of other faith backgrounds in resisting religious hatred and violence.

“Religion, you know, has been used far too often to cut people off from one another and to justify violence,” Dowd said. “Yet we know there are people in Sri Lanka and other parts of the world — people of faith — who are dedicating themselves to building bridges between people of different faiths.”

Nilesh Fernando, an economics professor, grew up in Sri Lanka and said he welcomed the support of the Notre Dame community.

“I’m not Catholic, but I appreciate the solidarity in a pretty difficult time for Sri Lankans,” Fernando said.

In wake of the attacks, Dowd reminded the congregation of the story of Jesus’ resurrection, which he said was a symbol of love overcoming violence and death. Dowd said the role of peace builders who promise hope for a grieving community should specifically be remembered.

“We also pray for them, the peace builders — those dedicating themselves to building peace between communities of faith and other groups,” Dowd said. “They play their role in closing the gap between the way the world is and the way God intends it to be. So, we pray for them in a special way.”

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