‘War Footing’: Catholic Church in Sri Lanka Calls for Crackdown on Islamic Extremists

Sri Lanka's newly appointed Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, Father Malcolm Ranjith, arrives at the felicitation ceremony in Colombo on December 6, 2010. Christians account for about 7.5 percent of Sri Lanka's 20 million people. AFP PHOTO/Ishara S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty

The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has called on the government to ramp up security measures against Islamic extremists “as if on war footing” following the jihadist Easter massacre.

“All the security forces should be involved and function as if on war footing,” said Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo.

“I want to state that we may not be able to keep people under control in the absence of a stronger security program,” Ranjith said. “We can’t forever give them false promises and keep them calm.”

The cardinal said the government must increase security “in order that the people don’t take the law into their own hands.”

Ranjith, Sri Lanka’s highest-ranking Catholic prelate, had already urged the government to pursue all those involved in the lethal bombings and to “punish them mercilessly,” calling the jihadists “animals.”

“I would also like to ask the government to hold a very impartial strong inquiry and find out who is responsible behind this act and also to punish them mercilessly, because only animals can behave like that,” Ranjith said.

The cardinal has also been very critical of the government’s concealment of intelligence reports suggesting a possible terrorist attack on Christian churches, calling the move “extremely serious” since “it means that the massacre could have been avoided.”

“If our local security agencies do not do their job, to whom can we turn?” he asked.

The cardinal said that some 250 Catholics had been killed, and the church offered numerous funeral services so as not to provide another tempting target for attacks with a big Christian gathering.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Easter attacks, which were carried out by members of the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) group, a local Islamist branch associated with ISIS.

This weekend the Catholic church cancelled all its Masses, while Cardinal Ranjith presided over a televised Mass from his residence, attended by the prime minister and the president of the country.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.