Father Fabrice Loschi, prior of St. Francis Xavier Priory in Negombo (Sri Lanka), on site, brings us up to date on the current situation, after the Easter attacks.
Today, May 1, 2019, about 20 people attended the 7:15 a.m. Mass in our chapel, which is rather good for a weekday, and given the exceptional circumstances in which we live.
Catholic churches are still closed throughout the country, which we find difficult to understand.
For our part, we are keeping our chapel open every day, with a person constantly monitoring the front door. The police told me yesterday morning that we had nothing to fear, and told us not to worry because the situation was under control, now that most of the suspects had been killed or arrested. So it would be easy to reopen places of worship and screen who might enter. This excessive fear may betray the fearful faith of the local priests.
However, the police are still finding Islamists planning terrorist acts. Yesterday, they arrested a group of people in Gampaha (50 minutes from here) who wanted to attack churches, Catholic schools and bus stations.
The police and the army are going to all the mosques in the country. They have found there explosive belts, knives to slit throats, army uniforms, chemical weapons, and other items intended for a general insurrection.
In Negombo, the situation has returned to normal in the city center, most stores having reopened. The tourist area is still deserted, but some brave Westerners are walking on the sidewalks from time to time, which is encouraging.
The area of Colombo hit by the attacks no longer has any visitors, likewise the Gall Face esplanade, which is the largest square in the city where everyone loves to hang out, along the seaside.
Although the police and the army seem to have been successful in eradicating the terrorist threat. The security alert remains at its highest level. A kind of psychosis seems to be making the situation worse than it is, especially in the Catholic community. Let's hope the country will recover quickly and return to a normal life.
Fr. Fabrice Loschi