CARDINAL Comae MurphyO'Connor has paid tribute to the people of Sri Lanka and relief workers who are helping the nation to recover from the tsunami which devastated the country in late 2004.
Speaking at Colombo airport before returning to Britain, the Cardinal said: "I've enjoyed my visit to Sri Lanka. and learned much.
"I've especially learned of the efficiency and dedication of the development agencies, especially our own Cafod; and what expertise is needed, post-tsunami. to enable the people of this
country to gather their hopes, their resources, for a living future. It will take time, but it will happen. Certainly the basis for Sri Lanka's recovery is being laid, as I saw for myself in the villages in the south and the east where I was invited to open many well-built houses constructed by Caritas and funded by the generosity of people of Britain.
"1 came away also very impressed by Cafod's method of working in partnership with the Caritas network, which acts as the social agency of the local
Church. This is particularly important in areas of political tension such as the north east of Sri Lanka. Donations to Cafod are making possible the resurrection of devastated communities, and I was delighted to see the joy and relief which new homes and new livelihoods have brought to suffering families.
"I've learned, too, about dialogue with other faiths. It's not just about being together, or even speaking together, but to make sure that there are some things we can do together. The way that the faith communities
worked together for the relief of the tsunami survivors was very moving.
"The third thing I take away with me is connected to the peace process. It is vital that the Tamils and Singhalese learn to live together peacefully. They need each other for Sri Lanka to be complete. The recent rise in violence on the island is worrying, but I hope that Sri Lanka's leaders can build on the common humanity which so many came to appreciate after the tsunami, and see that peace is for the mutual benefit of ail. be praying for that."