Sri Lankan Bishops go bananas
Posted on February 16th, 2010

H. L. D. Mahindapala

 Those who are keen on finding out the perversity of our moral leaders must take a peek at the statement issued by the some Catholic and Anglican Bishops of Sri Lanka on the latest presidential polls.

A Reuter report said: “Catholic and Anglican bishops in Sri Lanka have criticized recent presidential elections as beyond the boundaries of democratic rule and failing to address the concerns of the Tamil minority.”

The two main issues raised by the Bishops are (1) going beyond the boundaries of democratic rule referring to slander between the two leading candidates, President Mahinda Rajapakse and Gen.(retd) Sarath Fonseka and (2) “concerns of the Tamil minority”.

Over the centuries the Churches have been losing its moral authority because of their insidious partisan roles of dividing people not only into competing ( My-God-is-greater-than-your-God ) denominations but also on secular issues, including behaviour in private bedrooms to politics. Their knack for picking the wrong issues at the wrong time and lose credibility in the process is only too well-known. It is clear that the Church leaders have learnt nothing from the time they tortured Galileo to the last presidential election. The Bishops would have looked like the wise men who came to Bethlehem if they kept their mouths shut.

Take the issue of slander between the two candidates. Certainly, it would have looked nicer if both sides conducted themselves with restraint. But then a part of the excitement of elections is in hurling bricks and bats at each other. Where were the Bishops when, at the height of the last American Presidential election, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the priest who was the mentor of Barack Obama for nearly twenty years, cried out loud for the whole world to hear: “God damn America!”

The Republicans were digging up dirt to throw at Obama, including his Muslim name, his ancestry, his connections to a Chicago bomber etc. Of course, in the eyes of our Bishops America is the bastion of democracy. So how do the Sri Lankan Bishops view Rev. Wright’s damnation and all the other American dirt-diggers? Do they think that it comes within “the boundaries of democratic rule” as defined by them? Or are they willing to give special dispensation to the Americans and damn only Sri Lanka?

The immoral tragedy of the Churches has been the failure of its leaders to be with the people of Sri Lanka. The Churches had a grand opportunity to build bridges between the two communities because that is the only institution which straddled both communities in the north and the south. With their congregational and spiritual power they could have wielded considerable power and influence to bring the communities together. But they didn’t. They pursued their own separatist political agenda for their own self-serving ends. They failed in their responsibilities to God and to man by abandoning their moral and spiritual duties to guide the flock away from divisive politics that led to the tens of thousands of innocent Tamil, Sinhala and Muslims lives.

Rome too was going along with divisive politics fearing that there would be a split within the Church. The Tamil hierarchy in the Church went along with separatism hoping to establish their own religious kingdom without coming under the authority of Sinhala Churchmen. To establish a Catholic kingdom in the north they had to have a separate state. Consequently, they overtly and covertly backed the Tamil Tiger terrorists and the separatist cause. They did not hesitate, either in their pastoral letters to their missions abroad or in their sermons, to demonize the Sinhalese as their enemies who must be defeated.

They spent more time on worshipping the Sun God Prabhakaran than Jesus. They pretended to be the solution but their underhand maneuvers made them a part of the problem. Their partisan politics consistently favoured only the Tamils. Note for instance, point (2). It refers to “concerns of the Tamil minority” ONLY. It is as if no other community exists in Sri Lanka and even if they exist they do not have any problems.

They act, preach and promote only “the concerns of the Tamils” as if others aren’t children of God. Leading Tamil Churchmen went as far as declaring a special Tamil theology for only the Tamils excluding the vast majority of the Sinhala Catholics. Bishop S. Jebanesan of the Church of South India and Fr. S. J. Emmanuel, the former Vicar-General of Jaffna, were threatening to produce exclusive theologies for the salvation of only Tamils. How can these politicians in Christian garb ever claim to have the moral authority to stand up for the universal principles of Christianity?

The hidden agenda of creating a special theology for the Tamils was to justify theologically the brutal war for a separate state. In creating a Tamil theology only for the Tamils there was a suggestion of Tamils being the chosen people of God who needed an exclusive theology for them to be above the rest of humanity. Such a racist theology is against every known word of Jesus Christ. Fr. Emmanuel even went on record saying that he is “first a Tamil and then a Christian.” That is the lower depths to which the Tamil hierarchy in the Church went with their eyes wide shut.

The most obscene proof of this Christian politics was demonstrated by Bishop Rayappu Joseph who encouraged his Tamil acolyte to hijack the Statue of Holy Mary from Madhu Church and flee into the Tiger-land as the Sri Lankan forces were advancing into Mannar. Is this Christianity or Tamilianity? What moral, religious or even political authority had the Catholic Church to deprive the vast majority of the Catholics who live outside the north their right to worship the sacred Statue?

The Madhu Statue was an issue that went right into the heart of Sri Lankan Catholicism. It is not a political issue like the presidential election. It is one issue on which the Bishops should have stood up in one voice defending rights of all Catholics to share the statue with everyone else. So when Bishop Ryappu Joseph of Mannar and his acolyte went “beyond the moral and spiritual boundaries” of the Catholic canons and congregation at Madhu where were the high-sounding Bishops who signed this statement on the presidential election?

How can anyone respect these politicians in Christian robes as moral and spiritual leaders of our time? Among the signatories to the political statement is Bishop Duleep de Chickera who has earned an egregious reputation for closing his gate on the displaced persons who came looking for shelter under his roof. One of his predecessors, Bishop Kenneth Fernando, returned to Colombo after sipping a soft drink with Prabhakaran, a pathological serial killer, and told me, at an interview in his office, that he was “humane”. I nearly fell off the chair.

How can any sensible person trust their values, their morals and their calls for justice? In their statement on the presidential election they had the gall to say: “Our political leaders can still rectify these trends by setting self-imposed codes of conduct, especially as we approach a general election. A voter preference for those who demonstrate this change will result in a welcome transformation of our political culture.” Before telling others to change their political culture what are the chances of the Bishops setting an example by changing their political culture?

The statement was signed by Catholic Bishops Thomas Savundaranayagam of Jaffna; Kingsley Swampillai of Trincomalee and Batticaloa; Rayappu Joseph of Mannar; Norbert Andradi of Anuradhapura; and Anglican leaders Kumara Illangasinghe, Vicar General of Kurunegala; Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo.

But all is not lost. Bishop Joseph Vianney Fernando of Kandy broke ranks with this mob and gave a more realistic assessment of the situation. He said: “Some Catholic and Protestant bishops, engaged in ecumenical dialogue, issued a public appeal which emphasizes their fears and expresses their wishes. The situation we are experiencing is not as alarming as some press reports say. “¦We believe that the President has been duly elected and is entitled to govern. The majority of citizens have cast a vote in his favor and, once the correctness of procedures and transparency of the electoral process are verified, everyone must accept the verdict of the elections.”

He added: “For our part, as the Bishops’ Conference, we express our concern to President Rajapaksa, reiterating the urgent need to work for reconciliation and unity of the nation, for progress, peace, and prosperity in Sri Lanka which, after the painful years of civil war, is so in need. “¦ As the Bishops’ Conference, it is essential that we maintain good relations with the democratically constituted authorities, at all levels, by promoting the values of peace and justice.”

It is easy to instantly distinguish between the voice of sanity and the unwarranted cackle of the other mob. A part of the job of the Bishops is to guide the flock. They failed miserably to guide the flock when they were dying in their thousands. Are they preparing to send the lamb to slaughter once again with their partisan politics? Christians need more of Vianney Fernandos. The less they have of Ryappahs and Emmanuels the better it is for God, man and beast..

6 Responses to “Sri Lankan Bishops go bananas”

  1. mike Says:

    Quotes “5,000 Sinhalese Killed or disappeared 1988-1990 – in the ‘Killing Fields of Sri Lanka’ operated by the UNP government Batalanda torture chamber operated by Ranil Wickremasinghe Hundreds of government officials ruthlessly killed by JVP, among them tea estate planters such as Ratwatte who was killed and burned in his vehicle. Journalists such as Premakeerthi de Alwis and Richard de Zoysa murdered Countless young men tortured and left to die by the road side with burning tires around their necks . HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN NOW..Long Live President Rajapakse!

    Excellent! Please add removal of Mrs B’s Civic Rights due to JRJ’s fear of contesting her after passing retroactive legislation against Human Rights, Kobbekaduwa’s vote-who cast it? Ranil’s Thug Friend Gonawala Sunil getting a pardon from JRJ, The resignation letters of party MPs taken from Ranil and others by JRJ, Stoning Supreme Court JJ’s Houses, Then Forthright CJ NDM Samarakoon reluctantly giving the Pres. Oath to JRJ because of latter’s disrespect for the law , JRJ GOVT paying the fine of police officer Udugampola when Gampaha Magistrate fined the latter for assaulting a Buddhist priest…so on to ad infinitum.
    To the international community I say, What about the invasion of Iraq and Afganistan and Vietnam? Who is responsible for the hundreds of thousands of deaths of innocent people there? What about war crime charges for them? Physician heal thyself first.

  2. Siri Says:

    Bishop Vianney Fernando has taken a step in the right direction. We have yet to hear something from the Arch Bishop Dr. Malcolm Ranjith. The clergy needs to have unity amongst themselves and set a good example to the congregation. When I refer to the clergy I include all clergyman of all faiths. The recent disgraceful behaviour of the Malwatte Priests in Kandy is very bad. These monks tried to interfere in something they know nothing about. It is not their place to talk of Good Governance to the President who was elected in a democratic election with a majority. We have a very good legal system in Sri lanka, but it seems like the foreign money is greasing the tounges of politicians, clergyman, Journalists and Legal Eagles. They speak out like idiots. I gues they can be easily bought with the almighty dollar.

    The Central Bank should investigate how Danuna Tillerkeratne ended up with over half a million dollars in a safe deposit box belonging to his mother. Is all this from commissions or has it come from somewhere else. If a reasonable explanation cannot be given this should beconfiscated and used for public projects.

    The clergy should set a good example with a show of unity amongst themselves before calling for the government to unite the country. Lord Buddha taught by example. Are the Nayake Theros capable of doing this or are they so currupt in Worldly affairs that they have forgotton the teachings of the Lord Buddha altogether.

  3. Sri Rohana Says:

    These Catholic(k) and Anglican (bi)shops are agents for CIA and western agenda. Catholic(k) always lick the shoes of American and westerns. Bi shops are to sell the CIA menu to the nation. They never ever take the side of Singhalese. Their origin is obviously with Portuguese, Dutch and British invaders who massacred thousands of Sri Lankans. These invaded armies came to our country with Catholic priests who hold the bible on one hand and hidden the sword on the other hand.
    Bishops talk of democracy in Sri Lanka. Don’t they remember 1962 unsuccessful Catholic military coup d’etat and that gang tried to kill most democratically elected members of SLFP government and other left members of Parliament.
    These Bishops never ever made any statements against Tamil terrorists of Velupillai Prabakaran. When megalomaniac barbarian Prabakaran and gang killed several thousands of Singhalese Buddhists innocent civilian have this Bishops issued any press reports? Their agenda and Prabakarans agenda are same both wanted to eliminate the Singhalese Buddhists plus final goal is to create an American/Western puppet state in Sri Lanka.
    Have these Bishops made any statements when anti democratic J.R Jayewardene/ Ranil Wickramasinghe’s referendum, 1982 Presidential Election, civic rights of Mrs Sirimawo Bandaranaike, 1988 R. Premadasa’s corrupted Presidential election, corrupted Mahara, Mulkirigala Kalawana and other by elections.
    Have they issued any statements for massacre of 60,000 Singhalese and killing of political party leaders Wijeweera and Gamanayaka during 1987-89 eras by Premadasa, Ranil Wickremasinghe, and Ranjan Wijeratene? Same gang killed more than 600 Buddhists monks during 1987-89 eras. This Bishops were very happily with then UNP gang.
    Basic Politics of Bishops in Sri Lanka are pro western Anglo American/CIA global capitalists neo colonization interest.

  4. Daya Says:

    Although I do not like these clerics I agree with what they say – most of the time. Now, of course they are disagreeing among themselves.
    They usually take this moral stand. The point is that I have learnt that Duleep de Chickera’s own conduct with regard to the Anglican schools he controls is in some instances shocking.

    The worst probably concerns St. Thomas’ College, Gurutalawa. There, the arrogant guy first refused to meet a truly philanthropic Belgian Jew for two years, then used him to prop up a school that nobody had a sincere interest in. When the school was amazingly resurrected he sent in his favourite young Priest, Rev. Marc Billimoria, to be the Headmaster. Now, this Rev. Billimoria does not have the qualifications to be so appointed and the Ministry of Education (headed by the Hon. Susil Premajayanth) has actually asked Rev. B. to go away. But he’s staying put because Chickera has given him an incredible number of perks. They are relying on the confusion and the ineptitude of the Ministry and hope to get away with their conduct. Bishop Kenneth Fernando had tried a similar stunt with his relative, Eksith Fernando, being designated “Warden” of St. Thomas’ Mt. Lavinia. The parents had taken that case as far as the Supreme Court, and the Bishop’s nominee was thrown out.
    So, Chickera trying this stunt now is doubly shocking.
    I know that some of these details sound a bit improbable, but I have checked and found them true.
    So, what is shocking is how Chickera can be guilty of nepotism himself, and then pretend to be a Saint, and make all these pious statements about the doings of politicians.

  5. mike Says:

    How can a Sinhalese abuse President Rajapakse who saved the motherland from terrorism. Fonseka was in the army even before the president came to power. What did he achive then? Mahinda is the Commander in Chief who gave were above all three defence chiefs. Let the President heal the nation. Let Fonseka go free, with a condition that he keeps his big mouth shut when he goes overseas. Let Danuka and his mother go free. You are a great man Mahinda so be generous and forgiving. We are all Sinhalese and first we are all one nation. Let every one in SriLanka be happy and live in peace and harmony. These issues are dividing the nation. You and Fonseka both worked hard to clear the country from terrorism.You appointed Fonseka when he had only 12 days to go before retirement. You provided all the resouces to fight the war. You gave the manpower to the forces and you withstood the strong western pressure to stop the war. Forgive Fonseka’s utterences about giving evidence in a war crimes tribunal in Geneva, or shooting the white flag waving terrorists. God Speed to you President and may the triple gem bless you,. do the right thing now and free Fonseka.

  6. M.S.MUdali Says:

    This is a good article. As a Tamil Hindu, I wish to point out how the Catholic Church dominated LTTE and destroyed all the Hindu tamil leaders in the North. The policy of the churches is still converting people. That will help to destroy all nationalist feelings. The churches are always used by the west as their tools to destroy peace and other civilised norms.

    Tamil politics always under the control of the churches. When SLFP comes to power, Tamil politicians bark. When UNP comes to power “NO TAMIL GRIEVENCES”. Becasue the churches are the middle-men between UNP and Tamil parties. UNP and the churches always go well in serving the former colonial powers.

    Churches use their “money”power to create more problems in the name many issues. They talk much about democracy but they never practice it. All the church bosses are appointed ones.

    Fr. Emmanuel praised the LTTE as the DIVINE SOLDIERS OF CHRIST. Tamil catholic church publicly allied with a notorious criminal gang. I never heard any comments from any Sinhala church leaders against their Tamil counterparts.

    LTTE and Catholic Church systematically destroyed all the LEFT and HINDU leaderships in the Tamil areas. That is why now Jaffna Bishop is the spokesperson and all the people from the south go and meet him.

    I believe the catholic church had failed to get a Catholic enclave of Tamil Eelam like the East Timor. That is why the Catholic/christian elements make big noise against the current government by using all of their foreign masters!

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