Image courtesy MannarÂ DioceseÂ website
The sacred shrine of Madhu is being violated.
What right has the LTTE to encroach on the Pilgrim Reservation Area gazetted under the Pilgrimage Ordinance in 1982? The LTTE has violated International Conventions relating to War in entering the Church or its environs and converting it to Â a battle zone. The International Community should condemn this action of the LTTE. Only cowards hide in places of worship because they are unable to face the enemy in the battlefield. The International Community must call upon the LTTE to forthwith vacate the Madhu Church Reservation Area or face international condemnation. They must remove all mortars and other military equipment from the Reservation Area.
As for the Army it too should respect the law of the land. It is the State that declared the Madhu Church Reservation in 1982 under the Pilgrimage Ordinance. Â How can the Armed Forces of the same state violate the law.
Let not the media confuse the issue by talking of the priests taking the statue to the LTTE areas. Whether the priests did so under duress or willfully is not the main issue. The Army has not treated the Tamil Catholic clergy with any deference. (Father Jim Brown was wantonly killed in Army controlled areas and a church in Pesalai was shelled even with refugees Â in there). Whether the Tamil clergy think it is safer to take the statue to LTTE areas rather than the Army controlled areas is their judgment with which we can disagree. People on the spot are better judges in a war situation.
During the Second world War Hitler threatened to invade Rome despite the large South German Catholic population. In 1944 on 24th January Rome was in serious danger of being destroyed and the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Divine Love was in danger of being destroyed. It was moved from Church to Church and in the last of these churches, that of St Ignatius, on 4th June 1944, the Roman people made a vow to Our Lady to obtain liberation of Rome. They promised to renew their lives and vowed to erect a new sanctuary for the statue. Rome was saved and a new sanctuary was erected that year itself and in June 1944 Pope Pius XII went to it and conferred the title of â€œSaver of the City” on Our Lady of Divine Love. Â
The Army should with-hold fire until the LTTE pulls out of the Reservation. The LTTE will have to comply or be in violation of International Conventions governing war and civil conflict with the state.