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Anxiety, hope over church schools reopening in Lanka

May 16, 2019 00:00:00

COLOMBO, May 15 (AP): Catholic officials and parents in Sri Lanka are hopeful that church-run schools will begin to reopen soon for the first time since last month's devastating Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels.

All of the island nation's schools were set to reopen the day after the bombings following a two-week break, but they remained closed after the attacks, which killed more than 250 people and injured hundreds more.

Government schools reopened last week, but many children stayed home, fearing another attack.

Catholic schools, however, have stayed shut out worried that other Catholic properties could be targeted in further attacks.

In a memo to Catholic institutions earlier this month, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, said he had information from a trusted foreign source that a famous church and a lay institution were to be attacked.

The church confirmed that the memo, which first appeared on social media, was authentic.

On Sunday, the Catholic Church held the first regular Sunday Mass since the April 21 coordinated suicide bombings, amid tight security.

Sunday services had been canceled the two previous weekends apprehensive of more attacks, leaving the faithful to hear Mass via live TV transmission from Ranjith's residence.

Later Sunday, Ranjith gave Sri Lanka's Catholic school administrators permission to reopen on an individual basis in coordination with local security officials.

Rangika Perera, a teacher in a Catholic school where her daughter also studies, said reopening the schools and churches was the best way to demonstrate that Sri Lanka's Catholics hadn't been defeated by terrorism.

"They want to deprive us in every way and we should not help them succeed by our fear," she said.

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