Bishops kill peace in Sri Lanka
Posted on April 30th, 2011

H. L. D. Mahindapala

The report of a handful Christians demanding the release of the report of Ban Ki-Moon’s Advisory Panel of Experts (APE) “”…” a political move led by Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe (BISKILL) — begins quite appropriately by saying that Jesus was killed “by the rulers of that time, with complicity of high priests of the time.”

So what else is new?

It is a fact of politics and history that all rulers, without exception, have been killers when they were engaged in wars. There is no morality, or law, or mechanism yet devised to prevent this inevitability in war. What is unacceptable, however, is the “complicity of the high priests of the time” in killing Jesus — a universal symbol of killing innocent civilians.

From the Christian point of view the most relevant part of the opening sentence relates to “the complicity of the high priests” in the longest war in Asia “”…” 33 years to be exact since the war was declared on May 14, 1976 by the Jaffna Tamil leadership in Vadukoddai, the electorate of S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, the leader of Tamil separatism who was described b y his son-in-law, Prof A. J. Wilson as “a Gandhian in trousers”. The “high priests” “”…” like the secular high priests in NGOs “”…” are supposed to serve a higher morality which respects life and the humane values that protects life under all circumstances. But how has the Church served or upheld this higher morality during the time of the Vadukoddai War “”…” the war waged  by the Jaffna Tamils against the Jaffna Tamils and the rest of the nation?

The BISKILL report purports to be another report running in search of this higher morality. It was concerned mostly about the delay in the release of the APE report as if Jesus was late in going up the Mountain to deliver his Sermon or as if Moses was late in coming down the mountain with the tablet. BISKILL has elevated APE’s report almost to the level of a sacred document that could save the nation. This is the tactic of the lay priests in the NGOs too. BISKILL concludes by saying: “we believe all of us Sri Lankans should treat this report as a resource and tool in our own efforts towards a process of reconciliation that is based on truth, justice, accountability and reparation to victims.”

Quite naively, BISKILL concludes that “telling the stories of the brothers and sisters” will solve the problem of the nation. Obviously, blinded by its own myths, BISKILL has forgotten the history of the violence in the south. Hasn’t the nation recovered and proceeded to absorb the violent villains of the JVP into the mainstream without any APE-type reports? Besides, the history of the Christian signatories to BISKILL should teach them that they are talking through their hats. As they know, even the first coming of Jesus has not changed the world. The poverty, the violations of human rights, the persecution of the powerless, the Pontius Pilates, the tyrants and man’s cruelty to man committed in the name of various political slogans that dominated the political landscape in the Middle East (and beyond) during the time of Jesus still remains intact without any visible change. The Church which has no credible explanation for the failure of Jesus to save the world the first time he came is now waiting for his Second Coming. The independent international inquiry (?) demanded by BISKILL and NGOs is like waiting for the Second Coming. The question this poses is simple: If Jesus couldn’t save the world how can a shoddy report of some APEs save Sri Lanka?

But this is the kind of bunkum that is dished out by BISKILL and NGOs. To the vast majority APE is totally irrelevant. This nation has maintained a multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious society for millennia and it can get together faster and resolve their problems together if there are no APEs and BISKILLs. Bishop K. Illangasinghe will be surprised to find after sometime, that all the fuss he created in BISKILL would evaporate like hot air because the people will manage to work out their own solutions, as they have done in the past, without accepting any of the recommendations of APE.

The world has seen many APE type reports produced by the UN. These reports were meant to change the world particularly in restoring peace. But, on the whole these reports have exacerbated the tensions and caused havoc in major conflict zones. For instance, how many UN resolutions and reports have been produced on Palestine and Kashmir? Have these reports and resolution taken Palestine and Kashmir anywhere near peace? So isn’t it time that the NGOs and BISKILLs stopped conning the people with their yarns?

Actually, it is interventions of meddlesome priests in the Churches and NGOs that have worsened the inter-ethnic relations in Sri Lanka. Take the case of Bishop Kenneth Fernando. He returned from Vanni, after sipping the soft drink served by Velupillai Prabhakaran, and told a press conference that the “Sun God” of Vanni was “humane”? If Prabhakaran was “humane” on what level would the Church place Herod, the baby-killer? If Prabhakaran is “humane” the Church must seriously consider anointing Herod as the patron saint of children. Wasn’t this high priest complicit with the rulers of Vanni? Bishop Fernando, Charlie Abeysekera, a disgraced civil servant who became another NGO mudalali running MIRJE, and the academic, Jayadeva Uyangoda, a JVP fascist, who along with Lionel Bopage, went to capture Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike dead or alive, were in this ploy to give respectability to Prabhakaran and elevate him to the level of saintly liberator. Uyangoda who claims to be a political scientist, was manufacturing excuses for Prabhakaran because, according to his bogus theory, Sri Lanka could attain peace only if it was cut up into three ethnic entities “”…” Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala.

BISKILL report also drops a bit of liberation theology when it talks of Jesus as the bringer of the “good news of liberation” hinting that Prabhakaran’s brutal violence was akin to a liberation movement. This suggestion comes very close to Fr. S. J. Emmanuel, the Vicar of Jaffna Diocese  and Bishop S. Jebanesan who confessed openly that they were engaged in developing a special Tamil theology for the Tamils only, dismissing the Sinhala Christians as if they were not children of the Christian God worthy of “liberation”. In other words, the Churches were politicizing Christianity and exploiting it doctrinally to serve the partisan politics of Tamil separatism when the Bible says, unequivocally, that all, even the non-Christians, are children of God. So is BISKILL serving God or Mammon?

Dr. Noel Nadesan, the Editor of UTHAYAM, the Tamil community newspaper in Australia, told me a tragic tale of the pro-Tiger role of the Church in the Vadukoddai War. It is a tale reminiscent of the Catholic nuns and priests massacring civilians inside the Rwandan Churches. To cut short a long tale, at the height of the war some Tamil parents handed over eleven teenage Tamil girls to the priests in the Church in Putumatalan, a conflict zone, trusting them to protect the girls from Tamil Tigers hunting for teenagers. Soon after the parents left  “”…” it was in the dead of night — the priests rang the Tamil Tigers who did not waste time in grabbing them, with the consent of the priests, and throwing them into the front lines.

Is this Christianity or Churchianity? Of all the actors in the Sri Lankan scene the Church had the best opportunity to prevent the blood shed in the futile Vadukoddai War. The Church was the only instrument available in the nation to bring about reconciliation and harmony. It was the only institution which had political bases in both communities and instead of trying to build bridges they went all out to develop hate-filled political theologies to divide the people. To this day the Church has not accepted their failure and apologized to the nation. Nor has anyone at the top in the Churches yet declared that God cannot have two theologies “”…” one for the Tamils and the other for the rest of the world. So the Church hierarchy, from the Pope downwards, is complicit in committing the cardinal sin of perverting Christian doctrines for petty partisan politics that prolonged the agony of the war-weary peoples of Sri Lanka.

The Pope had a role to play in Sri Lanka to keep the northern and southern congregations united. He could have used his personal influence to prevent separatism and its concomitant violence taking root among the Tamil priests. But he didn’t. Like the way Pope Pius XII turned a blind eye to the persecution of Jews in Christendom Rome looked the other when some Tamil priests hijacked the statue of Holy Mary and ran into the Tiger-held territory. Bishop Ilangasinghe is overly agitated about the delay in releasing report of the APEs. Why wasn’t he agitated on the same scale about the issue of hijacking Holy Mary which is most dear to the hearts and minds of the national Catholic congregation? Has anybody heard of Bishop Ilangasinghe raising his voice against this unholy act?

Did he or his fellow priests sign a petition condemning Bishop Rayappah of Mannar for endorsing this sacrilege? There is a conspiracy of silence when the Churches have been used and abused for partisan politics of the Tamil separatists. The Church in Jaffna began by erecting separate pews to keep the upper caste from being polluted by the lower castes. And later the Church ended up by separating communities on divisive politics. These political acts coming from Churchianity “”…” not Christianity — confirm that the professed piety of some of the political Bishops is merely a mask for sheer humbuggery. Their politics has nothing to do with the “liberation” of the people. It has more to do with the priests climbing up the bureaucratic ladder in the Church, believing, mistakenly no doubt, that the higher they go in the hierarchy the closer you are to God.

In many devious ways the Churches have been throwing their weight behind the violent Tamils. Rather late in the day, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith did make some noises claiming that the Church was not for separatism. By the same token, the Church had not come out fighting separatism or condemned Prabhakaran even when he was branded as “the latest Pol Pot of Asia” by the New York Times. Their pastoral letters to their counterparts abroad are full of bitter, anti-Sri Lankan stories to denigrate Sri Lanka. The Tamil priests thundered from their pulpits abroad (e.g, Fr. Emmanuel) accusing “Sinhala governments” of persecuting the Tamils and how Prabhakaran has appeared as their saviour.

Anyway, now that the report is in the public domain what will Bishop Illangasinghe and his school of Christian do with it? Will he use it to heal the wounds of the past? Or will he and his other churchmen rake up the past and use it to rouse communal passions, hoping that it would open up more avenues to exploit the chaos and the tension for more conversions?.

The Church has never been saintly as it looks. Its past under the colonial masters, who gave them protection and patronage, does not entitle them to talk of human rights and even non- violence. When the colonial masters landed with the guns the priests were not far behind them with the Bible in one hand and the ammunition in the other. They praised the Lord and passed the ammunition to kill the natives and then they used the Bible to convince those alive that it was all done for their own good.

That is what BISKILL is trying to do again. The good Bishop hopes to market the APE’s report as the next best thing since Christ came down from the Cross and rose to heaven bodily. If these reports are that good why doesn’t BISKILL appoint another commission to inquire into the horrors committed by the Churches against the Sri Lankan and apologize for their past sins and pay compensation? Then it is possible to take them seriously. Until then the people can shove the reports of APEs  and BISKILLs in the deep freezer forever. .

One Response to “Bishops kill peace in Sri Lanka”

  1. Leela Says:

    Mr Mahindapala said; “the Church has never been saintly as it looks.” With all due respect to him, in my opinion, that’s an understatement.

    A missionary of the Pope of Vatican is said to have washed to Sinhale in 1505 A.D with a click of Portuguese pirates. Catholic web site ‘www.sspxasia.com’ confirms that fact. As Don said, that missionary is said to have had a Bible in one hand, a sword in the other and an out size cross hanged around his neck.

    Now, Sir James Emerson Tennent had written aptly about what that priest and the Portuguese have done during their sojourn in our mother land. He said; no page in the story of European colonization was more gloomy and repulsive than the proceedings of the Portuguese and its missionaries in Ceylon.

    According to Tennent, Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe’s ancestors have done unimaginable vile acts to save the souls of our ancestors. Francis Xavier and like-minded fanatics are said to have watched the torture, the killing and maiming of those that refused to forsake Buddhism, gleefully. To them, even killings are acceptable so long as souls can be sent to be with their God. If those that killed pleaded the God at least at their last minute that is all what Illangasinghe’s ancestors wanted? What does Bishop Illangasinghe says about this charge?

    What else could we expect from these maniacs? Scholars say; throughout the Vatican history, Popes in particular had interpreted the Bible to ruin the lives of many innocents. Just to point out one example, at the Council of Lerida in 1237, Dominicans and the Franciscans clerics were officially assigned in charge of all the murders carried out by way of inquisitions. Yet, Catholic Church has made those murderers saints.

    Eminent professor and historian Tennakoon Wimalananda points out in his book, ‘Buddhism in Ceylon under the Christian powers’ that all colonial governments in Sri Lanka had promoted apostasy with the sole aim of ruining Sinhale culture if not eradicating Sinhalese.

    All what this priestly lot are trying to do today is to finish their ancestors’ unfinished business.
    Leela

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