Archbishop Cardinal Malcom Ranjith, who recently sparked a storm with his controversial remarks on reinstating the death penalty, has reportedly berated Tourism and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga for having Sri Lanka host a special international convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Sources close to Amaratunga told Colombo Telegraph that the Cardinal had berated the Christin Affairs Minister about Sri Lanka hosting the international summit of the Witnesses and had expressed disappointment that Amaratunga was unable to prevent such “unfavorable developments.
A frustrated Christian Affairs Minister, who is a staunch Catholic, had painstakingly attempted to explain to Cardinal Ranjith that neither the government nor his ministry had any role in organizing the Jehovah’s Witnesses convention that was held in Colombo om the second week of July.
The tradition-steeped Catholic Church and evangelical “born-again” Christian groups often find themselves at opposite ends over fundamental differences in their value system.
It is in this context that the head of the Catholic church in Sri Lanka – which group form the majority of the Christian community in the country – expected the Christian Affairs Minister to stand in the way of the convention.
The Cardinal had been of the view that the Minster had let the Catholic church in Sri Lanka– of which he is a member – down.
“But how can a Minister prevent a Christian group from holding a convention? Sri Lanka is a democratic country and the right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed in the constitution,” a close associate of the Minister told Colombo Telegraph.
The Christian Affairs Minister had wondered if the Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith was under the illusion that Sri Lanka was under military rule, the aide also added.
However, despite Cardinal Ranjith’s resistance, the Jehovah’s Witnesses Special Convention in the South Asian region took place in Sri Lanka last week at Sugathadasa Stadium with the participation of approximately 3,500 overseas delegates from the USA, UK, Italy and Asian nations.