Sunday, August 23, 2009

A group of Catholic clergy protest over celebrating Madhu festival

A group of Catholic clergy has protested over celebrating Madhu festival while hundreds of thousands of people are locked in the camps, a senior clergyman said.

The assumption of Virgin Mary was celebrated on 15 August at Madhu shrine in Vavuniya.

However, Fr. Victor Soosai, Vicar General of diocese of Mannar said that up to 10 priests stayed away from the celebration to express solidarity with displaced Tamil people, and priests, in camps.

“On the one side, after very long time, people are allowed to go to Madhu and they were able to worship,” he told BBC Sinhala service, Sandeshaya.

Nearly 300,000 IDPs (internally displaced people) are housed in temporary camps in Vavuniya.

Priests detained

“On the other side, people are sad in the sense, all the adjoining villages are in the IDP camps. They were asking how we can celebrate peace without people in the surrounding area,” he said.

Fr. Soosai said a group of priests stayed either with the parish members or visited the IDP camps while nearly 35 others attended the Madhu feast.

Bishop of Mannar Rayappu Joseph did not protest but was absent due to ill health, according to Fr. Soosai.

The senior clergyman revealed that six Catholic priests and three nuns are also being detained in the IDP camps by the authorities.

He added that almost all priests, those attended and those who were absent, agreed with the call by Jaffna Bishop Thomas Saundranayagam for the speed release of the IDPs.

“That is the wish of all the priests,” he said.


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