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Call for a Christmas Truce
CEYLON 081218-1
December 18, 2008

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] We are now approaching Christmas, a world festival of peace. At this time many Christians and even persons of other faiths will be encouraged by the birth of Christ, the Prince of Peace, to review and strengthen relationships. It is consequently expected that family ties will be renewed, communities will gather for fellowship, strangers will be welcomed, the marginalised included and the oppressed set free. Where relationships are strained or hostile it is expected that dividing walls will come down and healing will take place through forgiveness and reconciliation.

It is this spirit of Christmas that compels us as Christian leaders of the country to urge the GoSL and the LTTE to declare a truce to include Christmas and the New Year. There should be no fighting or movements during this period. We trust that our appeal will be treated with dignity by both sides and urge the GoSL to take the initiative in setting up this truce. Such an initiative will be seen the world over as a sign of political maturity and generosity.

Even though temporary, such a truce will bring immense relief to the people of the LTTE controlled areas of the Vanni. It will also enable the Christians of these areas to worship and engage in their religious practices with less anxiety, as well as bring some respite to the war weary soldiers and cadres and some peace of mind to their parents and loved ones.

We also earnestly appeal to both parties to seriously consider setting up safe zones for civilians with the assistance of the ICRC; and urge that these arrangements be honoured by all. Religious leaders of all faiths are also available to help facilitate this process. We are of the opinion that this war must stop, but till that happens such an arrangement will demonstrate our respect for humanity and save some innocent lives from further trauma or even death. We can and must assert that it is possible to care for people even in times of war. Nothing should prevent us from our highest priority of enabling life and safeguarding humanity.

May the Peace of Christ fill our hearts and nation.

The Rt Revd Thomas Savundranayagam, Roman Catholic Bishop of Jaffna
The Rt Revd Rayappu Joseph, Roman Catholic Bishop of Mannar
The Rt Revd Norbert Andradi , Roman Catholic Bishop of Anuradhapura
The Rt Revd Kumara Ilangasinghe, Anglican Bishop of Kurunagala
The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Anglican Bishop of Colombo

15th December 2008.