Let’s rebuild nation: Sri Lankan bishops

The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka urged the Tamil National Alliance and the government for a dialogue to come up with a workable solution to the national issue.

Sri Lanka
Dec 13 2013, 5:57 PM
Let’s rebuild nation: Sri Lankan bishops
His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith addressing the Press Conference.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka (CBCSL) has exhorted Catholics to help in reconciliation and rebuilding Sri Lanka.

In a pastoral letter, ‘Towards the Reconciliation and rebuilding of our Nation’, distributed at a news conference in Colombo on Wednesday CBCSL President Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo also clarified that the Catholic church does not use incentives to convert people.

Cardinal Ranjith said that he had requested President Mahinda Rajapaksa to block legal loop holes to stop fundamentalist religious groups ‘creeping into the country’ to fulfil their interests. Many such groups used ‘Board of Investment Laws’ to set up establishments in Sri Lanka and engage in conversions, he alleged.

"The Catholic Church does not believe in using gifts or bribes to convert people and we have made our stance clear to all other religious leaders, including the Buddhist monks," he said.

The Cardinal said fundamentalist religious groups were a hindrance to the harmony between various religious groups. "We cannot afford to damage religious harmony at a time when ethnic harmony is also threatened," he added.

The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka also urged the Tamil National Alliance and the government for a dialogue to come up with a workable solution to the national issue.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference also stressed the need to appoint a civilian governor to the Northern Province and to treat the council similar to the rest of the provincial councils. The Bishops are also of the opinion that there should be a mechanism to probe war crimes.

The letter urged that all human rights violations between 1971 and 2007 be probed. "A local mechanism is a must in order to prevent any international intervention as that is the last thing the country needs.” Cardinal Malcolm said.

He added that in 1984 the Bishops had pointed out that unless we as citizens of this country learn to settle issues among ourselves through dialogue and in a spirit of magnanimity, foreign interference was sure to arise.

The Cardinal said Lankan Catholics must firmly stand against all forms of meddling by other countries in internal affairs. “At the same time we must remain genuinely committed to resolving our problems using our own means.”

The CBCSL also said there should be two-way traffic on migrant settlers. Anyone in the South who wished to live in the North should be allowed to do so and vice versa. However, the Cardinal said forceful settlements in the North would lead to further problems.

CBCSL Secretary General Bishop Valence Mendis of Chilaw, Bishop Vianney Fernando of Kandy, Bishop Kinglsey Swampillai of Trincomalee and the representatives of Major Religious Catholic Congregations participated at the Press Conference.

Source: Colombo Archdiocese