Sri Lankan priests, nuns and the Catholic fishing families on Tuesday attended a Way of the Cross through the streets of Negombo, north of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, making it an occasion to air their grievances over loss of marine life and livelihood. Some 500 faithful participated in the procession, March 22, carrying a heavy wooden cross along the route from the Central Fish Market, at Pitipana parish, up to the Wellaveediya Church, highlighting environmental issues of Poep Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si”. They urged the government to stop the US$1.4 billion Colombo Port City project and protect the environment, saying cement and other materials used for construction have already led to the disappearance of some species of marine life and is seriously undermining the livelihoods of the local fisher folk. The Chinese-backed project was suspended in March last year due to regulatory and environmental concerns. The government announced this month that the project would resume.
Fr. Patrick Perera, vicar general of the deanery of Negombo, told AsiaNews: "The Church in Sri Lanka is not opposed to the development of the country, but rejects the projects that, in the name of development, is destroying the fishermen's lives and nature." Referring to Pope Francis, Fr. Perera said that in the face of injustice the task of the Church is to speak out like Jesus. “When we talk about spiritual development, we must act to improve the conditions of our people,” he added.
The Chinese-backed project was suspended in March last year due to regulatory and environmental concerns. The government announced this month that the project would resume.
Loyal Peiris, a leader among the fishermen, recalled that Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato sì about the protection of the environment and its creatures, according to an integral vision of ecology. Speaking during a Station of the Cross, he pointed out a contradiction: "The project, which is devastating kilometers of rocks and sand, is not for the poor fishermen and their children, but for people who lead super luxurious lives in the world." (Source: AsiaNews)