16 September, 2019

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Cardinal Blunders Should Worry The Catholics – Reply To Shyamon Jayasinghe

By Reverend PJ Fernando –

Reverend Dr PJ Fernando

The recent article which appeared on Colombo Telegraph under the caption Cardinal Blunders Should Worry The Catholicson the 5th June has shown very poor journalistic standers, and must be said, it was right at the gutter. It is nothing but a scathing personal attack on the Cardinal. It in some ways reflects the standard of journalism we have generally in the country, not to mention the comments that appear on the social media. I at times wonder how one could not feel ashamed of oneself, let alone the quality of communication in social media as a nation and country. The renowned journalism, if there is one, should take the lead in restoring the dignity and respect in the media, in reporting and commenting, setting an example and a standard to the easily accessible social media widely used today. The manner we write and comment, must avoid crossing decency and courtesy. We must rise above, as is said in age old Greek logic, argument ad baculum, it is the fallacy committing to arguing by the cane; ridiculing and insulting someone personally or threatening someone. I am sorry to state; I am appalled by the standard of journalism that the Telegraph has promoted through the article of Shyamon Jayasinghe. 

I salute Cardinal Malcom Ranjith, on his bold standing taken in public in leading the country at a time of crisis. Since the victory against the Tamil Tigers who sought a bloody discriminating war, the Sri Lankan political leadership is in decadence with their personal, family’s or cronies’ ambitions raising their head reducing the state into a corrupt pariah regime. The lack of leadership in the country today has plunged it into its depths and has made it vulnerable to the fundamentalist, separatists and the extremists’ ideologies, be it religious or otherwise. Not too long ago, the people suffered the failure of leadership in the country when we were faced with the constitutional crisis. It was fortunately the judiciary that took the lead by taking a stand to save the day restoring the country back to near normalcy. I was wondering where were the religious leadership that should have guided and led the people. But unfortunately, the religious leaders too can be so divided succumbing to their political allegiances and so failing to guide the country and its leaders. With the Easter Massacre in the churches the Cardinal, whatever his allegiances have been in the past, fortunately took a firm and bold leadership uniting the country and all religions against violence and hatred. Which was remarkable. Well, very little could be said about the political leadership let alone, as Shyamon does praise, any political leader. Instead they must rightly be accountable to the people not just in mishandling the intelligence, but also how they dealt with the aftermath of the massacre and now, trying to help restore those broken lives, assuring security for normal ordinary people, making sure that such gross negligence is accounted and brought to justice, and guarantee that it shall not be repeated in the future. The least one would expect is creating a debate on some political ideology simply to score for one’s own advantage, and a coverup for one’s own negligence and failure. 

I have tried, painstakingly, to read through carefully between the lines what Shyamon writes, to tease out the arguments that he wishes to put forward beyond a very personal attack on the Cardinal and a praising of the minister Mangala – for what? 

To the contrary to what Shyamon writes, I find that Cardinal giving bold and courageous leadership, risking his own privileges as Shyamon says he should have enjoyed by keeping to his counsel as a Cardinal, by raising a critical issue with regards the future of our beloved country. It is much easier to say that Sri Lanka is not a Sinhala Buddhist Country appealing to the international community, for cheap popular, personal gain and political victory ransoming the country, the history, the culture and its people. Cardinal has taken the leadership in bringing to debate and discussion which we should have had long ago, soon after the war. As many have commented, yes we have fought a war and won so to say, as there are no winners in a war. But we have not had this debate and discussion defining the country and its future, settling the real score with the real separatists, and so letting us all play again roulette with the separatist movements and now with the new addition to the complex problem, the religious fundamentalism. One asking for a separate Tamil state and the other soon will be asking for an Islamic state. Both will use the same tack ticks; international isolationism – making Sri Lanka vulnerable in the international stage, human rights cases against Sinhalese Buddhist leaders. Targeting the Sinhalese Buddhists and so easily the Buddhist monks. Attacking trade and tourism – so that the countries economy will be at the mercy of foreign nations that could dictate and control the future of the country favouring the separatist’s agenda. Rewriting the historical identity of the country – defining the country as a multireligious, multicultural country. Dismantling any historical proofs – Remove Sinhalese language from being the official language, systematically destroying historical sights, records and books, and even rewriting them and creating their own. I cannot but applaud the Cardinal for his stand. 

The gana marga, path of Wisdom as is said in all religions is the path to liberation and to lead others to liberation; be it salvation, nibbana, heaven or enlightenment. And so, it is often our own ignorance is what plunges us to confusion. There is again the famous age-old principle in logic, ‘affirmation of one thing is not the negation of the other’. When the Cardinal said that Sri Lanka is a Sinhalese Buddhist Country, it does not mean that the others are denied of their rights and existence. It is a show of lack of understanding and learning to jump into a conclusion otherwise. When you say that Sri Lanka is a Sinhalese Buddhist Country it affirms the historical identity of the country, respects and regards the countries culture and history. It also communicates to the country and people that we recognise and uphold its history and culture. It gives the affirmation that we have not come to overtake the country and its culture but respect it with our own ethnic and cultural identity or belief systems. 

It is also important to recognise that when we say that Sri Lanka is a Sinhalese Buddhist Country, it is not to give teeth to  any Sinhalese Buddhist Chauvinism, or place them in any privileged position to discriminate others,  but just the contrary, it would be the duty of this Sinhalese Buddhist Country to treat, respect and regard equally every other citizen and religion. The rights of a person pervades any self-identity, which is surely a separate discussion. I would go even further to saying that, it would be the paramount duty of the Sinhalese Buddhists then to protect and serve all other peoples and religions – the country; beyond caste, creed or race, which would be its pride of place. I agree that there is a journey we all must make in this respect. But haven’t cardinal united the Catholics with the Buddhists with such solidarity when he has given the assurance that it is a Sinhalese Buddhist country long before this carnage. Would we not wish such solidarity of the majority with all the minorities of the country. What is it that unlocks it? What is it that is stopping us say that Sri Lanka is a Sinhalese Buddhist country, when we know that it is clearly true historically, geographically and morally, if not for our own hidden agenda of dismantling or proselytising the country. 

But when the minister as is reported to have said, and Shyamon seems to support it, that Sri Lanka is ‘not a Buddhist Sinhalese Country’ is surely to deny a country and a people of its history and culture. It is simple logic. Sri Lanka is not a modern nation like Singapore, but a country that has a long-standing history and civilization, 8th Centuries before Christ. To deny this, is to be very irresponsible by any standard, let a lone a journalist, minister or a religious leader. There are just two simple tests one could ask; is there a Sinhalese country anywhere else in the world? Is there a Sinhalese language anywhere else in the world? So one could easily see the agenda of the separatists and the extremists, to dismantle these two pillars that uniquely defines the country as a Sinhalese country. Of course, Buddhism goes with it as a part and parcel of the Sinhalese heritage. So will in their own right, all other historical religions of the country. 

To be fair by the Cardinal, I remember the Cardinal as a bishop and then soon after his investiture to the Cardinalship saying in public to the media that Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country. So clearly cardinal has moved from it, for which I commend. He is not a fanatic or plays his cards as is said to be in the limelight, but it shows that he has over his cardinalship carefully, thought, prayed (which I have no doubt about it), debated and now taken to lead the people and open up an important discussion in the country, which is by all means worth having. Typical quality of a true religious leader, sacrificing his own interest or the self-interest of the Catholics as such, who are a minority of this Country. 

Sri Lanka must have this debate and discussion highlighting the concerns for the Tamil, Muslims and all peoples, even those marginalised by cast, creed, gender and less able. Their voices must be heard and so of the majority Sinhalese, and the Buddhists too. 

It seems that Shyamon together with others seems to have been affected by the visit Cardinal made to the monk who was protesting with a fast unto death. I am surprised as to how such a nonviolent action is ridiculed as Shyamon does. Even the late Mahatma Gandhi led such nonviolent protests, when justice was denied by the then British rule. As an outcome of it, I gather the Muslim ministers resigned enabling an impartial inquiry for the Easter Sunday massacre. Which is indeed the right thing to do. A discipline all ministers should follow when faced with such a judicial inquiry. I hope all ministers will follow suite in the future. Whatever the background of the monk is, as Shyamon states, what the Cardinal was upholding was his nonviolent means seeking justice to yet another minority religious group in the country. Cardinal’s visit was an act of charity and determination. It was to strengthen the nonviolent resolve in the country to bring justice. It was to unite the country against violence but bring justice to all those who were killed. It was necessary due to the lack of leadership in the country that failed to guarantee a path of justice for the victims. I wish the honourable minister had taken his time and trouble to bringing justice to the victims that were denied of it, rather than pick a fight with the Cardinal in public, even dragging it to the international stage to insult a very respected religious leader of his own country, to divide the people again, and distract the people from the fact that he and his government grossly failed their people. They shall go down in history as leaders who failed the people. I applaud the Cardinal for his courage and feel proud that we have at least had such religious leader in our country, right at this moment. 

I was deeply disappointed that Shyamon in his article with such low standard of courtesy catering to some agenda either of his own or sponsored by some other. I wish the readers of his reply will have the opportunity now to see also a different view and a take, to all that he says.

*Reverend Dr PJ Fernando – Currently Priest of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, UK. Besides his priestly studies he obtained his DPhil from University of Cambridge UK, in Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligent Systems in 2004, served as Chaplain to number of universities in UK leading debate and discussions on number of topics such ‘the place of religion in the university’, ‘faith and reason’, ‘science and religion in a secular setting’, ‘religion in the public sphere as a moral compass’ and many other interests. 

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Latest comments

  • 2
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    karl June 13, 2019
    Corrected Version
    0 0
    Leaving his ideas aside, Fr.Fernando is not capable of writing coherent prose ot present a logical argument. He throws out some points in a haphazard way and believes he has made his point.
    Did he do his work at Cambridge in Sinhala? I suppose he conducts his work at the Church in Birmingham in Sinhala!
    I invite Fr. Fernando to read an article in these pages by Ekanayake,It was also published in the Island.

  • 13
    5

    Hello Dear Reverend,
    You have missed the main point of contention and the fundamental problem facing the Sri Lankan society which has plagued the country.
    Are you also saying (from your luxurious chaplaincy) that Sri Lanka belongs to the majority 70% who happen to be born accidently as Sinhala Buddhists?
    You must be joking. Where did you study your Christianity? Shouldn’t the remaining 30% which is a minority have equal status?
    Why not give up your robe and the 6 star comfort that you are freely enjoying now and sing hosanna to the Rajapakse’s full time instead of “preaching”. Cardinal Ranjith will be a good ally.

    Lucifer

  • 1
    11

    All the religions, with the exception of Buddhism, especially the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are based on a big LIE, namely the existence of an UNSEEN, UNHEARD and NON- EXISTING GOD whom they perpetuate by adding more and more lies.
    .
    So what can you expect from all the leaders of these religions? Only More and More Lies.

    • 3
      2

      Edwin, true- Buddhism is also based on three Big Lies- karma, rebirth and the Mother of All lies- nirvana
      Gautama

      • 1
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        Gautham,
        There is no karma or rebirth in Buddhism. Those are traditional beliefs that have been absorbed by Buddhists who have no proper understanding of what Buddha preached. Nirvana though is a concept that is there. When you die you will rot, putrefy, become dust, pass into the atmosphere, into nothingness. Buddha departed from commonly held beliefs of his time and shunning an all-powerful god, preached anattā, the doctrine of “non-self”. This meant living beings have no unchanging, permanent self, soul, or essence. He said at death humans would pass on into Nirvana, or nothingness. Hopefully I have helped with you understanding.

  • 8
    5

    Cardinal Malcolm Rajith will fall on his sword very soon. Egoism has taken over the Cardinals mindset and he is trying to please the displeasables. Rome need to reign in on this Cardinal who is beginning to enjoy the limelight.

  • 8
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    Revd Fr Fernando

    There is no denying that, subsequent to his initial demand for “merciless punishment”, the Cardinal took a noble stand to prevent violent reaction to the bombings. And, possibly, due to this, reciprocal violence did not take place for sometime.
    However, by the time the fast began, there had been many attacks on Muslims, their homes and businesses, and it was clear, from the crowds that began to gather near the monk, that anger was growing again. And I have seen a video taken at the time of an enormous mob beating a single man so violently that it seemed very likely he was killed. I am amazed that this was not reported in the press at the time.
    The reverend monk could not have been unaware of the feelings his fast would have stirred. And I believe that the Buddhist hierarchy did not visit him. That the Cardinal did, in a time of such tension and anti-Muslim feeling, certainly cannot be simply regarded as “moral” support.
    The Muslim politicians who resigned were fully conscious that the monk’s act could at any moment trigger renewed violence, and that wS probably one reason they acted as they did.
    It seems that the Cardinal is not firnly rooted; he shifts from position to position. And it is true, as has already been said here, that he seems to cosy up to certain politicians. Perhaps you did not see the photograph of him in the Daily Mirror taken on 31 October last year, just 3 days after the ‘constitutional’ coup. He is sitting in state next to the new PM, on a sofa, surrounded by flags and other elements of grandeur. And, this, at a time when many Sri Lankans are shocked by the illegal act that has placed MR in that situation again. The Cardinsl was, in effect, giving his approval and blessings to a coup!

    • 9
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      Manel Fonseka

      Thank you for calling a spade a spade.
      There are fewer and fewer people who believe in and seek out truth, and want truth to prevail. Please keep up your good work.

      “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”
      -Buddha

    • 1
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      Powerful lot of good sense, Manel Fonseka.

  • 2
    10

    Reverend Fernando has wasted so many words and time on a worthless rag who is not worth calling a journalist.
    This whole thing is so politicized is either them or us. There is no in between.
    No humanity. Whatever happens one must not show his face where Rajapakse face is!!!
    If you do…….you are doomed be condemned and banished in to oblivion.
    You can see that from the comments that have criticized the Cardinal and reverend Fernando.

    • 5
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      NAK

      How are you?
      I am sorry are you defending the Cardinal and his supporter or taking a dig at them?
      What is your point if there is one?

      • 0
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        Cardinal did more than our politicos did.who kept information to themselves and caused
        Chaos.dont get bugged.

  • 9
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    Non believers are on the increase in the world. Millions have been killed in the name of religion watched by god. Good Cardinal didn’t utter a word when 24 journalists were killed during MR regime.. Wern’t they gods children.Arch Bishop Pell is in jail in Australia for sexual offences. Thousands of cases are pending against child abuse by clergy. I can only repeat what the priest said at the memorial service to the dead in the Concorde crash in Paris. ‘Oh God where were you on this day in Paris.” Let me conclude by quoting Einstein on god. ”The word God is for me nothing but the expression of human weaknesses.”

    • 6
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      Upali

      Thanks
      The good cardinal should/could have done millions of things but he didn’t. He did what is politically expedient. It is not a very bad thing compared to the ones who chose to defend the indefensible.

  • 0
    2

    1. His excellency Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has responsibility and authority over the Catholic community. The Evangelical authority for the Zion Church should have taken responsibility and acted accordingly.
    Cardinal Ranjith did not visit the Hotels that were bombed!. That was the responsibility of the Hotel Management and the government though the catholic community shared the grief for lives lost and injured.
    2. The Catholic church does not condone violence perpetrated by any party. Evangelical leaders who had created animosity by their actions should take responsibility for their actions.
    3. The Methodist church leader or leaders should take responsibility. The cardinal cannot step into controversies where certain Evangelical churches were accused of conversions by payment of money and perks to poor Buddhist people!

    You do not interfere directly on matters where it maybe interpreted as overstepping your jurisdiction. Unlike political leaders, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith is fully aware of his jurisdiction and limitations.

  • 5
    3

    Reverend PJ Fernando cannot surpass Shyamon Jayasinghe’s brilliance as a writer and analyst

  • 0
    2

    Upali well said. God and religions are there to cover our sins beside an institution to make money and enjoy power, thanks to human ignorance, fear of the unknown and short cut to life. Religion is like political establishments strive hard to protect their interests, and this Reverend fernando too rushed to the occasion to defend his boss. After all in an establishment, boss is important for professional progress and not for spiritual advancement. The Reverend jumped the gun prematurely like his boss and got into more controversy. I am sure now to make matters still worse, HLD may jump into the ring to make matters worse for both Cardinal and Reverend. It is sad looking at the abuse of religions. As a little fellow I have studied at convent and Christian schools run by brothers and fathers and sisters and how I enjoyed their love, care, and a broad based education. But today the Christian clergy too have become politicians like the Buddhist clergy and spoilt the status of the religion. One or two selfish, power hungry leader is enough to ruin the whole show. The Christian churches are already in query owing to their conversion scheme and if they over step then they will lose their place in the society. In SL scenario it is better for them to stick to church activity only. Hope Rev Fernando has already read Shaymon’s response to his allegations and insinuations.

  • 1
    1

    I doubt this was written by a Christian priest. To be fair, the Cardinal also visited Mosques after riots. It may be difficult for him to distance himself from MR as the former first lady is a Catholic (she was at St Anthony’s shrine for the earlier Easter mass).
    It is the duty of any government and head of state to safeguard people from riots and investigate those accused of associating or harbouring suicide killers more than endorsing the resignation of all Muslim politicians (for an unrelated issue at a later date) and encouraging society to look at the Muslim community as extremist and terrorist.
    The Thero was fasting in the premises of the ‘Buddhist hierarchy’. The constitution of SL states that it is a the Democratic Socialist Republic, but a special place is accorded to Buddhism.

  • 0
    1

    Suicide or attempted suicide: isnt it a crime according to Buddhism? Then how this clergy can fast unto death? That too in front of maligawa? How about in Christianity? Thrtr too it is a crime. Then how this cardinal went to bless that fasting thero?

  • 0
    0

    Rather ridiculous that someone can think a fasting monk is dangerous or an extremist. Or that a monk is fasting for political gain. Have the Eelamists whining about Sinhala Buddhism forgotten about the cyanide capsules handed to small children by Thalaivar and Adele Balasingham? Or the suicide belts wrapped around Black Tigers? Sun God was caught like a pig in the mud at Nanthikadal… after forcing thousands of others to explode or swallow pills, he was too scared to do it himself! At least the monks have conviction.

  • 0
    1

    Dear Father,
    Don’t get upset by the silly comments of a Pensioner who as I understand has nothing much to do in Melbourne.

    He reckons he is an ace Opinionist and a Columnist who fear nothing,
    Bu all he does is bash the poor Sinhala Buddhists and their Monks in in English.
    And sing Hosannas to Dr Ranil and his crooked Brigade who have robbed the Nation to buggery.

    I have been searching the Web for two days now, But couldn’t find any Opinion, fearless or otherwise he has written even in the local Curry Magazines of our Lankans..

    • 1
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      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

      “Don’t get upset by the silly comments of a Pensioner who as I understand has nothing much to do in Melbourne.”

      Probably you are right.
      Therefore he is doing something useful to humankind by setting the path to liberation from Sinhala/Buddhism thereby stopping the spread of fascist ideology in this island whereas you are probably unemployed/unemployable unless of course you have political patronage, full time b***s carrier to corrupt politicos, you live in your own mental Sinhala/Buddhist ghetto longing for the emergence of Ein Aryan Sinhala/Buddhist Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer, ….. util this island is being obliterated from the face of this earth.

      Instead I suggest you meditate on Mohideen Beg’s Buddan Saranan Gachchami.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJjj3hsahyU

  • 2
    1

    Lester, VP had a reason to protect Tamils from rabid Sinhala racism and endless violence from 1956 perpetrated by Sinhala civilians, clergy , politicians and Sinhala armed forces. These are besides stealing their language rights, university education and employment opportunities and their lands. You guys cheated Tamils from DS onwards shamelessly. VP only fought for their rights in their very lands and never disputed Sinhala rights of Buddhism. Do you now see the difference. Then you fools went and slept with Muslims and see what had happened to you. Your gahanies now can’t even go to Arab World for cleaning jobs. Soon you sinhayas have to work as nannies and cleaners at Thambiyas houses while they scream at you in Arabic. Your hero Mahinda supported terrorist Hizz-Bulla. Hizz-Bulla worked for Aiyo Sirisena and became governor of Kathankuddy to establish an Islamic republic, mind you despite losing elections. Now the moda theros are praising VP and even ask for Tamil help. Come on Lester, confused guys like you form the majority and hence this confusion and chaos. Wake up Lester at least now.

    • 0
      0

      Nathan, as usual your Eelamist logic fails. Foreign remittances from migrant workers were $7.2 billion USD in 2017, compared to apparel ($5 billion) and tourism ($3.9 billion). So foreign remittances are important, but not the only source of income. Not only Sri Lankans work in the Gulf, there are Indians, Filipinos, and Bangladeshis. What rights did VP fight for… he used money from Tamil diaspora to build a luxury swimming pool. Why didn’t he blow himself up or take a cyanide pill at Nanthikadal? The diabetic terror pig was too scared… after 30 years of kidnapping little girls to fight grown men, he couldn’t kill himself… that is the biggest coward! That is why SLA showed no mercy to these buggers… even though your Tiger leaders begged with white flags, they only got the karma, one clean shot to the head. Now you are begging UN to pass a “resolution.” UN is owned by USA, do you think they will help your terrorist cause?

  • 0
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    Sumaney summa barking at the moon. Nothing will salvage Karthinal from his sins. Your support is like Hizz-Bulla’s support to Aiyo Sirisena.n

  • 1
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    Gautham,
    There is no karma or rebirth in Buddhism. Those are traditional beliefs that have been absorbed by Buddhists who have no proper understanding of what Buddha preached. Nirvana though is a concept that is there. When you die you will rot, putrefy, become dust, pass into the atmosphere, into nothingness. Buddha departed from commonly held beliefs of his time and shunning an all-powerful god, preached anattā, the doctrine of “non-self”. This meant living beings have no unchanging, permanent self, soul, or essence. He said at death humans would pass on into Nirvana, or nothingness. Hopefully I have helped with your understanding.

  • 1
    0

    Lester learn to answer to the point. Just shitting about VP is irrelevant here. He did what he had to do at that time. If you derive honour killing white flag wielding people then it is your dharma. That is what you know. Why are you jealous about VP’ s swimming pool? Had you gone there with a white flag he would have received you well. You could have even swam in his pool if you can swim. He would have fed you with nice fried prawns. Had he achieved Eelam, you would have been waiting in a polima to get an employment visa to go to Eelam instead of starving in the republic having sent the family to the ME. Balla Kenneth na, Kanne gonatta dennath na.

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