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President urges people to build new bridges of tolerance

2009-12-25 04:10:27
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President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his Christmas message has called upon the people to build new bridges of tolerance and understanding to rebuild shattered lives and restore peace and harmony in the country.  He added that Christians in Sri Lanka have more cause for the joy of Christmas in a country that is no more threatened by the dark clouds of terror.

The President’s message said:  “As the world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace this year, Christians in Sri Lanka have more cause for the joy of Christmas in a country that is no more threatened by the dark clouds of terror.

“The spirit of Christmas is one of loving and giving. It brings together families and communities to share the joy of the birth of Jesus Christ who brought with him the great teaching of love that is at the core of Christianity. The people of “Sri Lanka need an abundance of this underlying love that will build new bridges of tolerance and understanding, to rebuild the shattered lives or our people who have suffered through three decades of terror and restore our land to one of peace and harmony.

“The birth of Jesus Christ in a stable at Bethlehem is symbolic of the love that should transcend all barriers and extend to all, from the humblest of people, to all other beings that share our land, and to nature that sustains us all.

“The sound of Christmas bells will spread far and wide the joy of Christmas announcing the dawn of a New Era of Peace to all those of goodwill.

Meanwhile opposition common candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka in his Christmas message said the festival was celebrated this year in an atmosphere of peace due to the sacrifices made by security forces personnel to rid the country of the terrorist threat. 

His message said: It is a great pleasure and a privilege for me to issue this message of peace and hope, as the world commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, who sacrificed his life for the liberation of the oppressed and the underprivileged.

The Significance of Christmas is known all over the world. Jesus Christ was born into a world that was riddled with problems: social, religious, political and otherwise. Though his beginnings were humble, he gave a new and a spiritual turn to the lives o mankind. Today, we can learn from His humble beginnings that we, too, can rise above the challenges and limitations in our lives, if we truly accept and, in turn, generate peace and love.

This Christmas season finds our nation in an interesting time, able for the first time in nearly 30 years to celebrate the occasion as one nation with true sense of joy, in an environment of peace marred by the threat of terrorism. This is possible due to the united efforts and sacrifices of many thousands of valiant personnel in the security forces under my command, and the blessing and good will of the general public.

We had one objective in mind when Christmas dawned one year ago. That was to make the Christmas of 2009 an occasion that could be celebrated by all Catholics and Christians from Point Pedro to Dondra head, in a peaceful environment devoid of terror and its accompanying threats. I am proud to say we have kept our promise and take humble joy that we were able to free the sacred Madhu Church for the veneration of the Catholics. This would not have been possible without the commitment of the tine armed forces, the police and the civil defence force, belonging to all communities and religious who sacrificed their lives to liberate this sacred shrine.

Ours was a mission to deliver on the promise of peace and prosperity to all Sri Lankans. It was not a campaign aimed at peoples of one race, faith or region. Though we achieved that emphatic victory against terrorism we cannot rest for the divisions among us still exist. The time has now come to rebuild our shattered nation, especially the strained relations between our communities who once lived as one family.

The responsibility of creating a Sri Lanka that respects ethnic harmony, religious coexistence and justice is up to all Sri Lankans belonging to all religions whether they be Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims or Christians belonging to both the Sinhala and Tamil communities. It is apt for all to look at the teachings of this messiah on this Christmas day.

The message of Lord Jesus Christ to all was to live truthfully and with integrity. He committed his life to the effort of liberating the people of the world. The Catholics around the world are marching on the path shown by him after enduring many obstacles. The example shown by Jesus through his crucifixion is the nobleness in sacrificing your life for the good of the others.

Let us all commit ours’ on this Christmas day that marks the birth of Jesus Christ to become just citizens and create a just society. That is the best way to honour his name.

I take this opportunity to wish all Sri Lankans a peaceful and blessed Christmas season.


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