Clergy from the Church of England are being invited to provide respite for Sri Lankan priests in the war-torn country.
CoE clergy will be asked to take over from Sri Lankan clergy in safe regions, so that those clergy can provide respite for their countrymen in conflict zones.
Lanka Nesiah, speaking on behalf of Bishop Duleep de Chickera, in the Diocese of Colombo, explained: ‘There is a great need to provide relief to our clergy in the north and east. We will not place visiting clergy in conflict areas or expose them to any kind of danger. Instead, Bishop Duleep proposes to send some of our clergy from other parts of the country to provide respite to clergy in the north and east.’
The Anglican mission agency USPG has offered to sponsor volunteer clergy from the Church of England to serve in Sri Lanka for periods of between one and three months.
In 2005, USPG sponsored three Church of England clergy to provide respite for Sri Lankan clergy in areas affected by the tsunami of Boxing Day 2004.
Sri Lanka’s Buddhist Singhalese government is currently attempting to eliminate opposition from the so-called Tamil Tigers, who want an independent Tamil state in north-east of the island.
The Church of Ceylon – which is the Anglican church in Sri Lanka – includes people from both Sinhalese and Tamil communities. It is working for peace and providing what support it can to those affected by the fighting.
A missionary in Sri Lanka wrote this week that the Tamil Tigers have been confined to a small area in the north-east of the country, where they were hiding behind a ‘human shield’ of civilians, estimated varyingly at between 80,000 and 200,000 people.
The missionary stated: ‘The Sri Lankan army is continuing its offensive, and intense fighting is reported. A Tamil Tigers request for a ceasefire was considered ‘hilarious’ by the government newspaper. Meanwhile, a remote Sinhalese village in the south was attacked this week by the Tamil Tigers, and 13 civilians were killed.
‘The true death toll of this war may never be known. Figures given by the government usually tell of the army inflicting huge casualties on the Tamil Tigers; there are rumours of lorries full of bodies. The need to keep the true human cost of the war from the people, and to keep up the morale of the army, partly explain the diminishing press freedom and a deteriorating human rights record that is regularly criticised by foreign governments.’
The Revd Jessie Anand, USPG’s Regional Desk Officer for South Asia, said: ‘Sending clergy to partner churches is not a new mission for USPG. By doing this, USPG is helping to raise a prophetic voice for affected partner churches at the right time with the right people. This will in turn bring Christ into the situation.’
Clergy interested in serving in Sri Lanka should contact the Revd Jessie Anand on 020 7378 5669 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Article from USPG: http://www.uspg.org.uk/article.php?article_id=526