23 September, 2018

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Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s Endorsement Of The Death Penalty: Unbecoming Of A Man Of God? 

By Jude Fernando

Jude Fernando

Pope Francis: no crime ever deserves the death penalty,” by Vatican Radio, March 20, 2015

Public policies that treat some lives as unworthy of protection, or that are perceived as vengeful, fracture the moral conviction that human life is sacred.— United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.” ― J.R.R. Tolkienthe Fellowship of the Ring

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s endorsement of President Sirisena’s approval of the death penalty for drug traffickers is contrary to the fundamental teachings of the Bible on crime and justice, as well as the current theological positions which many of his fellow cardinals, Pope Francis and his predecessors, John II and Benedict XVI, and majority of the world’s nations and human rights organizations, use to justify their opposition to death penalty. The cardinal’s endorsement is reminiscent of what Frederick Douglass said in the context of slavery in the southern United States: “Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference.”

Today the Church is opposed to the Death Penalty.

The church is a human agency and its position on social, economic, and political issues continues to evolve. These changes are deeply spiritual since spirituality in Christian teaching ought to be a manifestation of the life Christians live in the world. Critical reflection, repentance, and acknowledgment of its failings, and forgiveness, mercy, and restoration are signs of a church obedient to God.  Accordingly, over the years, the Catholic doctrinal responses to “crime and punishment” have evolved from the changes of its theological reflections of church’s biblical convictions about good and evil, sin and redemption, justice and mercy. 

The Church’s position on the death penalty has a rich history and it is always driven by the question of what does it mean to be a Christian in the way it actually relates to the state and society in given context. Early Church drawing on Pope Innocent III (1161-1216); “sanctioned capital punishment” so long as it was carried out “with justice, and not out of hatred; with prudence, and not with precipitation.” This position seeks to put ‘an end to the cycle of violence and death by seeking justice without revenge.’ Even in this context Papal authorities have consistently called for the end of the death penalty and demanded clemency for those sentenced to death around the world. 

After years of critical reflection of its theologies, wisdom, and experience, the current Church opposes the death penalty, and in its place advocates other modalities of punishment based on mercy and restorative justice. In 1999 based on a document “Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: Catholic Perspectives on Crime and Criminal Justice” Catholic Bishops, after the visit of Pope John Paul II to the United States, unanimously call to end the death penalty. Church’s current position, advocated by Pope Francis and many of his predecessors, emphasizes the sanctity of life ethics of justice and forgiveness, and “justice for all citizens as well as the opportunity for those who harm society to make amends through acts that affirm life, not death.” 

Church’s current position on the death penalty is drawn strictly from the life of Jesus and his teachings on justice that the Christians are expected to emulate. For example, according to the Bible, Jesus when questioned about the death penalty for adultery, a capital offense at the time, said, “Let whoever is without sin cast the first stone.” The point Jesus was making was that no one had the moral authority to condemn a fellow human to death. Jesus’ commandment, “judge not lest you be judged,” implies that we humans are inevitably flawed in our execution of judgment. The Church’s position is not based on selective readings of the Bible, rather a nuanced understanding of justice, love, and mercy within the context of the overall narrative of God’s relations with humans from the books of Genesis to Revelation. 

Pope Francis, at the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on October 11, 2017, said that capital punishment“ heavily wounds human dignity” and is an “inhuman measure.” The Pope also said that the death penalty is “in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of which, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor.” The death penalty, according to the Pope, “not only extinguishes a human life but also extinguishes the possibility that the person, recognizing his or her errors, will request forgiveness and begin a new life.” Traditionally, the Catholic Church permitted the death penalty under certain circumstances. However, in 1969, Pope Paul VI formally banned the death penalty, even though it had not been imposed since 1870. 

In explaining the change in the Church’s position on the Death Penalty, Pope Francis said that Catholics should “take responsibility for the past and recognize” that use of the death penalty was “dictated by a mentality that was more legalistic than Christian.” He then stated that “remaining neutral today when there is a new need to reaffirm personal dignity would make us even guiltier. For him the “change in the Church’s position is about the “development of church teaching and that it is not the same as contradicting or changing church teaching”, and that “tradition is a living reality and only a partial vision would lead to thinking of ‘the deposit of faith’ as something static.”

Cardinal Ranjith’s position on the death penalty is at odds with the fundamental Christian teachings and the Vatican and many Catholic lay organizations’ position of on the death penalty. My point here is that the Cardinal Ranjith’s endorsement falls far short of his position as a Christian spiritual leader.  I am not saying that a state should run its legal apparatus according to the spiritual reasoning of the Catholic Church. 

The cardinal’s position on the death penalty is at odds not only spiritual grounds but also on practical grounds and years of lessons learned from over militerized efforts to deter trafficking.  Studies after studies have shown the death penalty do not deter illicit drug trafficking.   For example, the experts, speaking ahead of the 13th World Day Against the Death Penalty said that the “imposition of death sentences and executions for drug offenses significantly increases the number of persons around the world caught in a system of punishment that is incompatible with fundamental tenets of human rights.” Krisanne Murphy, managing director of the Catholic Mobilizing Network in the United States, which is opposed to the death penalty, points out that “to suggest the use of the death penalty as a way to address the opioid epidemic ignores what we know to be true: the death penalty is a flawed and broken system of justice.” How can the death penalty deter illicit drugs in a corrupt and malfunctioning legal system such as ours? 

The Cardinal’s endorsement of the death penalty also comes at a time when the global support for the death penalty is increasing. In 1977, the Amnesty International started a campaign to end the death penalty. Today, 139 countries, the majority of the world’s states, have turned their backs on the death penalty for good.  They have either ended it in law or practice.  Even Singapore, well known for its uncompromising stance on law and order and its use of capital punishment, particularly for murder and drug trafficking, amended the law in 2012 to give a judge the choice to impose the death penalty or life imprisonment with caning. Some speculate that these changes are evidence that “Singapore may be moving with the global trend towards greater restrictions on the use of the death penalty and its eventual disuse” (Chan et al., October 2017).

What are the reasons behind the growing opposition to the death penalty that the cardinal ignores?

The death penalty is irreversible. There is ample evidence from around the world that many innocent people have been executed for false charges, and others have been released from death row, including some who came within minutes of execution. People who are poor or socially marginalized often lack the means for proper defense. Many have been executed or remain on death row despite doubts about their guilt. The application of the death penalty has often been selective as it is dependent on the broader social and political context. When the death penalty is the only sentence for drug trafficking, “judges can’t take the accused’s personal circumstances or anything else into consideration when making a decision.” 

The illicit drug trade is a growing transnational industry that thrives despite the billions of dollars spent to destroy it.  According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and European crime-fighting agency Europol, the annual global drug trade is worth around $435 billion a year, with the annual cocaine trade worth $84 billion Illicit drugs are trafficked across manifold borders before ultimately reaching consumers; these routes are not random, rather interwoven with the corruption in existing routes of legal trade, corrupt and polarized law enforcement, criminal activities and money laundering activities. While it is true that increasing demand for drugs is major issues for drug trafficking, overly militarized counter-drug efforts while have succeeded in disrupting criminal markets in the short term, the same policies have made the problem worse rather than better. 

Drug trafficking is a hierarchically-structured industry conducted by local and international networks involving people from all walks of life, such as politicians, large business owners, celebrities, and law enforcement authorities. Often the people who are convicted are those at the bottom of the drug trafficking hierarchy, the death threats against them and their families prevent them from exposing those at the top of the hierarchy. We also know those at the top of the trafficking network hierarchy wield power and influence over politicians and law enforcement authorities.  Too often wealthy and politically influential drug traffickers evade the death penalty while those who are poor, marginalized and cannot afford to bribe face execution, and the risk that the state executing the wrong person is higher. In corrupt and politicize legal systems death penalty also lead to higher bribes to law enforcers to avoid prosecution or seek lenient sentences.  

There have also been instances of people being framed for drug trafficking, and people have carried drugs unknowingly or been coerced by threats to their families and their own lives. A good recent example is the case of Podikumarihami of Mahiyangana. During a public hearing held on 29th June 2018, Podikumarihami testified that when she, refused to give up the land for the illegal sand mining operation and the authorities “fabricated false accusations against her and her children, saying that they dealt in drugs.” 

The death penalty has also been imposed on innocent people when the authorities found traces of drugs on the keys to a hotel room in which they were staying. This “violates a person’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty – a right that is essential to the principle of fair trial.” The death penalty in most contexts is an ultimate injustice to the poor and the marginalized who cannot defend themselves in the current justice system.

The global illicit drug crisis is incomprehensible outside of the context of the every globalizing market economy and geopolitics, and it converges with corruption, terrorism, and state failure. The crisis is deeply intertwined with poverty, market-driven consumerism, disenfranchisement, and the militarization of society. It has been proved again and again that the death penalty is imposed on people from vulnerable racial minorities, especially in countries where racism is deeply interwoven with the identity and popular legitimacy of the state. For example, geopolitical battles opened the gateway for drug trafficking between Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan and are interwoven with European countries. Can we only hold traffickers accountable for opium production in Afghanistan? Can anyone with a good conscience say that the drug crisis in Sri Lanka has nothing to do with these global realities? 

Another reason behind the opposition to the death penalty is that it involves someone taking the life of the convicted person. Studies have shown that executioners frequently suffer post-traumatic stress from having to kill a person, regardless of the fact that they are simply doing their job. Why should an average civilian take the entire responsibility for policy decisions made by politicians that will affect his or her life? Will those endorse the death penalty take the responsibility for executing a person or be present at an execution? 

The death penalty is a highly politicized public spectacle which violates the right to life recognized by many international conventions. Often it punishes most vulnerable in the hierarchy of drug industry and leaves the rest unpunished. According to Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of Amnesty International, “All executions violate the right to life. Those carried out publicly are a gross affront to human dignity which cannot be tolerated.” Studies have consistently failed to demonstrate that executions deter people from committing drug-related offenses. There are numerous examples of the trade in drugs thriving in the face of the most draconian penalties. In response to the Philippines’ use of extrajudicial killings to address drug issues, the group In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) argued that “extrajudicial killings here in the Philippines have been the solution for quite some time by the Philippine government, and these killings and capital punishment share the same flaw—they will, they do not, and will not address criminality.”

According to Sanho Tree, program director of the Institute for Policy Studies and the Director of its Drugs Policy Project, in the Philippines where it’s President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has killed between 5,000 and 20,000 people, there is no proof that usage has actually decreased. “The number of so-called drug addicts — originally, they said it was 1.8 million, and then President Duterte came up with the number of 3 million, then 4 million,” Tree says. “Now his foreign secretary has said 7 million users. The more people they’ve killed, the number of users keeps going up. The Catholic Church in the Philippines vehemently opposes the death penalty of country’s government, and despite the climate of fear and terror and government opposition to the church, “a growing number of churches have opened their network of safe houses to people at risk of being killed.” Manila Cardinal Luis Tagle said that “the illegal drug problem should not be reduced to a political or criminal issue. It is a humanitarian concern that affects all of us.”

I am perplexed as to why a pro-life Cardinal defying the Pope’s authority and support the death penalty. Perhaps, we might find the reason for the confusion lies in the context in which President Sirisena and the Cardinal endorse the death penalty. President Sirisena is faced with a serious legitimacy crisis in his government regarding its inability to restore law and order in the country. Like the citizens of Philippines, the Sri Lanka citizens might allege that the government’s show of heroism by approving death penalty is a dismal attempt to cover up the government’s failure of the government to maintain law and order.

Religious leaders are not always apolitical; they are part of the everyday politics of society, and they too seek popular legitimacy and are embroiled in battles over doctrinal issues that could mask power struggles within their own religious communities. The means they use to secure legitimacy and fight their battles are not always consistent with the teachings of their respective religions. It is well known that inside the Vatican there are tensions between those who support and those who oppose Pope Francis’s radical doctrinal and policy changes. 

The Cardinal’s statement may be a reflection of his differences with the current Pope, and how he wants to position himself and the Church in relation to state and society in Sri Lanka. One might even find the Cardinal’s position on the death penalty is consistent with the way, he in the past has responded to the Sri Lankan government’s positions on human rights and humanitarian issues in the country. 

There is a far more serious logistical issue regarding the Cardinals position than the theological and pragmatic issues I raised in this article: Who is “we” in the following statement by the Cardinal? 

“We will support President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to subject those who organize crime while being in the prison to death sentence but we also feel that there is more to be done,” (Daily Mirror, 12/06/2018)

Is Cardinal referring to the Catholic Bishops Conference in Sri Lanka and/or clergy of Sri Lanka? Is he also referring to the laity? Did the Cardinal consult the Bishops and Clergy before making the decision? It would be a serious error on Cardinal’s part if his position is entirely his personal opinion.  On a matter as serious as the death penalty, the Church as a body of Christ, need to be representative of its diverse bodies. 

I do not want to be too judgmental about the theology and intentions behind cardinal’s support for the death penalty. But I am concerned with confusion and concern among many Catholics and many of those who opposed to the death penalty due to the Cardinal’s support for the death penalty. With all humility, I suggest that the Cardinal provides an explanation of his position to the all Catholics, clergy, his superiors, and to all citizens.

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Latest comments

  • 23
    0

    Malcolm Ranjith is more politician than priest.
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    The Catholic equivalent of Upali Thero of the Malwatte Chapter.

    • 8
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      SM:
      I sort of agree with you other than comparing him to Upali Thero.

    • 11
      1

      Malcom Ranjith seems is preaching his own doctrine and NOT God’s word. He has less support from within the Catholic community of SL than an ordinary priest.
      Malcom Ranjith’s association with MR and Co and Duminda Silva for personal benefit has resulted in his unpopularity. This is a man who has banned Christmas trees being placed inside churches and spoke against the tallest Christmas tree being built on Galle Face green during a past season but yet he is ok with murder.

      • 1
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        Malcom!
        Jesus christ was given the death penalty wrongly it is said, but he rose up the third day. But will all the others penetrate the grave and rise up even if they have been punished wrongly? Come! Come! Malcom you are supposed to live in God’s little Acre (CHURCH) and pardon those who confess to you of their crimes. How can you support a murder?

      • 0
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        Yes, Christmas trees bring great joy to children; only a prim and proper man, who smugly live in his own world, could have thought of banning them.
        .
        Especially within a church where hundreds of children would see such a tree, there must surely always be a case for placing a natural tree within the church; at least until such time as trees get threatened with extinction.
        .
        However, in the home, there is a strong case for having an artificial tree which can be stored away for use in succeeding years. I’m sure that the practitioners of certain kinds of economics will claim that we must stimulate spending. May be. But methinks a currency note is worth only the paper it is printed on, apart from the value we place on it, in our seemingly eternal quest to stay ahead of the Joneses. I know that there was so much stealing of branches of cypress, either from other gardens or from state land. The branches make do for trees, in the houses of the wealthy. The cypress is not a native tree, and we know how much havoc can be wreaked on the environment by such imports of the exotic.
        .
        As for the tallest Christmas tree being built on the Galle Face Green, wasn’t that another manifestation of the little islander mentality of wanting to be the “greatest”?
        .
        Cont. . . .

      • 0
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        Richard,
        .
        Continuing my response your comment. I may well be one of many who are against the Death Penalty on principle because of our thinking in abstract ethical terms. To be consistent, I must necessarily extend that attitude of mine to all criminals. And so, yes, I’m against the re-introduction of the Death Penalty.
        .
        However, in practical terms, I feel little sympathy for Wele Sudha, Duminda Silva, and that King of the drug Mafia whom we haven’t yet identified. I’m glad that I’m not in My3’s position. I would be feeling a great deal of empathy with him now had he not come up with blanket statements like “no Sri Lankan soldier ever committed a War Crime”. The when it is finally proved that General X was definitely guilty of giving orders for Privates Y and Z to rape and murder, he says that none of them can any longer be defined as soldiers.
        .
        My3 was Minister of Defence during those last few days of the War. I don’t hold him responsible for whatever happened then owing to the pent up fury of individuals. In the context, Victory was an achievement, but it was not he who got all that done: take our pick: Fonseka or Gota. That is why we say, investigate, then work towards reconciliation. Punishment is a quite different matter. We have to understand that the cycle of violence must be broken. His responsibility is to guide the Nation for another 18 months, and then clear out!
        .
        My3 was recently in Georgia. He should study carefully the life of this very good man, who knew when to retire:
        .
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eduard_Shevardnadze

    • 1
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      Sinhala Man!
      May be Malcome pardon all politicians irrespective of religious faith, who confess to him. May god bless him. The famous Tamil Thirukkural (a non religious book) says ‘Inna setharai Uruththal avar nana nan nayam seithu vidal’ Meaning, the best way to forgive a person who has harmed you is to do some good to him in return, to make him feel ashamed.

    • 0
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      Sinhala Man:- Please be corrected of the Aasgiriya Chapter,

      • 1
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        Thanks, Upali Wickramasinghe.
        .
        You’ve managed a typo yourself, adding an extra “a” in Asgiriya.
        .
        It happens often with many local names; we rely so much on the spell-check for other words, but know that we must ignore these.

    • 0
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      Nice to know what the cardinal feel about Wijayakala’s speech and those of Wimal and Kata pallalya

    • 2
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      Wonder how many of you come out in such anger when an innocent child is raped, when a family is destroyed due to drugs, when millions worth of drugs are being brought to the country and caught, when drugs are being packed by entire families, like recently where a family of five were caught packing drugs, when the drugs are being sold in schools, sometimes even in the prominent private schools endangering the future generations, etc. How many of the righteous ones trying to save the hard core drug peddlers, protest when the innocent are being destroyed. They will only lament when one of their children or family members are affected. Till then they will safeguard the peddlers.

      Hypocrisy is the only evil that walks invisible.

      • 0
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        Faiz,
        .
        With all that I agree. The drug peddlers are cold-blooded. They know the dangers, and don’t themselves touch the drugs.
        .
        One problem that we guys who want drugs “stopped” face is that we ourselves know so little of the range of drugs, their appearance, their relative dangers; and even the fact that some of them could actually be prescribed for various conditions. No, I’m not embarking on such a study myself, but the issue is serious enough to undertake such studies, in different contexts, and make society aware of the dangers. I will not ry to be more specific in an area in which my ignorance is almost total.
        .
        However, our problem is that, as Mangala Samaraweera alone of our politicians had the courage to say, we are likely to end up hanging the small guys, while knowingly overlooking the operations of the kings of the trade.

  • 16
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    Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith is the Uncle Tom of Sri Lanka, and a shameless Rajapakse b+mlicker, and the fascist Buddhist monks’ favourite Biblical Satan Pet.
    .
    If somebody is going to hell….. ….. ……I know who that is.
    .
    For me, he’s the best clown Sri Lanka has ever produced. Mervyn Silva doesn’t even come close. Gnanasara might be a future contender for the title. People like these bring a light moment to the dreary task of posting to the CT.

    • 0
      9

      Do you guys have any decipline or upbringing by a propper school. You may disagree with The Cardinal. But This is not the way to respond. He will have reasons not visible to you. But if you are a Christian I ask back “Who are you to judge?”. If he is wrong let god deal with that. Do not forget that you are talking to the Highest Priest in Sri Lankan Catholic mission holding the 2nd most senior position in the Catholoc Church. Learn to respect protocol and deal with differnt points of view. Im sure The Cardinal is more learnerd than you or me.

      • 9
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        I’m not a Catholic, but I respect Pope Francis for one thing that he has said: “Who am I to judge?”
        .
        Why doesn’t Malcolm Ranjith ask himself that question – which you have shown awareness of.
        .
        Since you have made snide references to schooling (and to the “imported language – “Kaduwa” that we are using) may I point out some spelling errors that Spell Check ought to have alerted you to:
        .
        “Independent”, “discipline”, “God”, “Catholic”, and “proper”.
        .
        I acknowledge the possibility that you posted from some gadget where the Spell Check wasn’t functioning.
        .
        But that “propper school” thing was a nasty dig at millions who attend free State Schools. It became the reason for my own nastiness.

      • 2
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        I agree and disagree with you. I agree with the appalling fact that most people who responded to the article do not know how to do that respectfully and focus on the main issue. That is a huge problem here. At times it is disgusting. At the same time, there is being in a higher position does not make one to have the absolute authority on scriptures and a reason to escape from criticism. Many deeply spiritual and learned people have done plenty of wrong things. Cardinal is human and he could be corrected by any person who now theology or not. The best sign of a learned person is a humility of acknowledging how little he/she knows. This cardinal has a track record of saying things really questions his credibility as a spiritual leader. All that I am saying is that there should be a debate about his position on the death penalty since it is at odds with the Vatican’s position and the majority of those concerned with human rights.

        • 1
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          Dear Jude Fernando,
          .
          This is off topic, but since you have intervened here, was it you who graduated from the Arts Faculty at Peradeniya around 1986?
          .
          I remember a person with the same name, but with no beard! Acted in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”.

  • 3
    5

    Research done in the 1990s in the USA found that Protestants (who interpret the Bible to be the literal word of God) were more likely to be in favour of the death penalty than members of other religious factions and denominations. How about those countries too kill innocents via Invasions ?

    • 0
      3

      Sri Lanka needs death penalty for criminals such as murderous, rapists and drug lords Bible has nothing to with it. What is wrong with you man? I dont know whether you are a Sri Lankan, if not, just shut up. I am a Christian and I believe Bible is the Word of God, but I support wholeheartedly death penalty followed by a fair trial.

      People who afraid of death penalty may be criminals.

  • 1
    5

    Mr. Jude Fernando: what you say that the Church became civilized over the time. Otherwise, Vatican was not humane even at the time of the Second world war. Now, suddenly, you people have become Saints. For much of history, the Christian Churches accepted that capital punishment was a necessary part of the mechanisms of society. Pope Innocent III, for example, put forward the proposition: “The secular power can, without mortal sin, exercise judgment of blood, provided that it punishes with justice, not out of hatred, with prudence, not precipitation.” The Roman Catechism, issued in 1566, stated that the power of life and death had been entrusted by God to the civil authorities. The use of this power did not embody the act of murder, but rather a supreme obedience to God’s commandments. In the high Middle Ages and later, the Holy See authorized that heretics be turned over to the secular authorities for execution. The law of Vatican City from 1929 to 1969 included the death penalty for anyone who tried to assassinate the Pope.

  • 8
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    Jude Fernando,

    RE: Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s Endorsement Of The Death Penalty: Unbecoming Of A Man Of God?

    Now go back 500 years, 1000 years. The Popes, and the Church gave the death penalty to heretics, innocents, philosophers, astronomers, not criminals, because it was a “crime “against the Church’s unsubstantiated teachings and dogma.

    When a criminal, a murderer kills anther innocent human being, that is a crime that the society should deal with. Life in prison, death etc. must be decided by the morals of the society
    What Does the Bible Say About Capital Punishment and the Death Penalty?

    https://www.christianbiblereference.org/faq_CapitalPunishment.htm

    The Old Testament

    Life was harsh for the Hebrews in early Old Testament history. The penalty for most crimes was either death, beating or banishment from the tribe.

    The Old Testament Law prescribed the death penalty for an extensive list of crimes including:

    Murder (Exodus 21:12-14; Leviticus 24:17,21)
    Attacking or cursing a parent (Exodus 21:15,17)
    Disobedience to parents (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
    Kidnapping (Exodus 21:16)
    Failure to confine a dangerous animal, resulting in death (Exodus 21:28-29)
    Witchcraft and sorcery (Exodus 22:18, Leviticus 20:27, Deuteronomy 13:5, 1 Samuel 28:9)
    Human sacrifice (Leviticus 20:2-5)
    Sex with an animal (Exodus 22:19, Leviticus 20:16)
    Doing work on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14, 35:2, Numbers 15:32-36)
    Incest (Leviticus 18:6-18, 20:11-12,14,17,19-21)
    Adultery (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22)
    Homosexual acts (Leviticus 20:13)
    Prostitution by a priest’s daughter (Leviticus 21:9)
    Blasphemy (Leviticus 24:14,16, 23)
    False prophecy (Deuteronomy 18:20)
    Perjury in capital cases (Deuteronomy 19:16-19)
    Refusing to obey a decision of a judge or priest (Deuteronomy 17:12)
    False claim of a woman’s virginity at time of marriage (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)
    Sex between a woman pledged to be married and a man other than her betrothed (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)

    The New Testament does not have any specific teachings about capital punishment..

    • 5
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      Amarasiri

      Just out of curiosity have you any quotes from New Testament?

      Of course Cardinale is a hypercritical politician so is Pope only minor deference’s except when it comes to crooked Politician’s they promise haven on earth before the elections, Clergy promise heaven after death easier offering.

      • 6
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        Leonard,

        “The cardinal’s endorsement is reminiscent of what Frederick Douglass said in the context of slavery in the southern United States: “Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference.”

        The Christianity practiced over the past 2,000 years by the Church, the Christian Cult, gave the death sentence to heretics, innocents, philosophers, astronomers, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, natives etc. What the Cardinal is now saying is that give the death sentence only to drug dealers. A new reformation , a new enlightenment?.

        The True Core Of The Jesus Myth

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMo5R5pLPBE

        This is a cost to society to benefit to society issue. Drug dealers are like killers, slow killers, like bacteria and viruses, that destroy a body. Should an antibiotic or an antiviral be given to cure the ailment?

        As for the drug dealers, a few innocents will be caught up and some will be framed by the corrupt system.

        The New Testament does not have any specific teachings about capital punishment. However, the Old Testament ideas of punishment became secondary to Jesus’ message of love and redemption. Both reward and punishment are seen as properly taking place in eternity, rather than in this life.

        Jesus said His mission was not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17-20). However, He and His apostles greatly modified our understanding of God’s intentions. Love is the principle that must guide all our actions (Matthew 5:43-48, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28, Romans 13:9-10, Galatians 5:14). Christians are bound by Jesus’ commands to “Love the Lord your God” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:34-40). We are no longer bound by the harsh Old Testament Law (John 1:16-17, Romans 8:1-3, 1 Corinthians 9:20-21).

    • 5
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      Jude Fernando,

      RE: Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s Endorsement Of The Death Penalty: Unbecoming Of A Man Of God?

      “Today the Church is opposed to the Death Penalty.”

      Until Today, the Church was not opposed to the Death Penalty because they were delivering the Death Penalty wholesale to save from the Jesus Myth.

      The True Core Of The Jesus Myth

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMo5R5pLPBE

      Hitchens about the Catholic Church

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZKOD-Qpu_4

      Summary of sins over 20 centuries.

      Crusades, Inquisition, the persecution of Jewish people, injustice to the natives and women, etc.

      • 0
        4

        Amarasiri, you talk a lot but you have no knowledge of actual Christianity and Jesus. You can cut and past what you have posted but real knowledge matters. I can give list of thousands of true Christians who were killed by Roman Catholic Institution. That is itself not a Christian Institution. You have really mixed up the things due to your lack of knowledge in Christianity and Jesus.

        By the way Jesus is not a myth. He is the way truth and life , whether you like or not

        • 4
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          Contradictions galore!
          .
          The last sentence so unsubstantiatedly dogmatic, but introduced by a casual “By the way . . . “
          .
          And you cann’t spell your own very Christian (Old Testament, admittedly) name: DAVID.

  • 15
    1

    The so called “Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith” is a hardcore racist. He despite being a representative of Christianity for whatever reasons, had said the Buddhism must be given the “foremost place” in the Constitution. Do you really believe he should be representing Christianity in the Island?
    The Island is full of racists and it shows up at different times in different forms. I am not sure why you are so surprised.

    • 4
      2

      What does the foremost place mean? If it means prominence in State activities but non-discrimination against other coreligionists no objection. Personal freedom to follow and practice ones religion individually and collectively is necessary with no interference by the State or other coreligionists

    • 7
      0

      RajS,

      “The Island is full of racists and it shows up at different times in different forms. I am not sure why you are so surprised.”

      The Island, the Land of Native Veddah Aethho, illegally occupied by the Paras with their Para-beliefs, are full of Para-racists and Para-cultists and it shows up at different times in different forms.

      Original Article | Published: 07 November 2013

      Mitochondrial DNA history of Sri Lankan ethnic people: their relations within the island and with the Indian subcontinental populations.

      https://www.nature.com/articles/jhg2013112

      Through a comparison with the mtDNA HVS-1 and part of HVS-2 of Indian database, both Tamils and Sinhalese clusters were affiliated with Indian subcontinent populations than Vedda people who are believed to be the native population of the island of Sri Lanka.

    • 4
      0

      How about Rayappu Josep?

      • 4
        0

        Daved

        Yes, Yes…………..Rayappu Joseph and also S. J. Emmanuel are already booked to share the same dungeon with Malcolm Ranjith when their visas expire, and all of them get up (down?) there in good time.

        • 3
          0

          Daved
          I also heard it through the grapevine that the occupants of the adjoining dungeon will be Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush, Weerawansa & Gammanpila.

  • 0
    1

    “Thou shall not kill” That is God’s Command, no Ruler whether a believer or an atheist
    could contravene that commandment. There can be no exemption to the law of the
    Creator and under no circumstance could one take even one’s own life. As the
    Author states it will dispel any misunderstanding if His Eminence Cardinal
    Malcolm explains to the Faithful the context in which he made his statement
    justifying the death penalty. We Catholics cannot accept any exception to God’s law.

    • 8
      0

      Henry Fernando

      ““Thou shall not kill” That is God’s Command”

      Then why is it allowed to eat turkey in Christmas?

      • 0
        0

        “Man has made God in his own image.” That is the truth about all religions. They have to be understood in the context from which they began. They tend to have had significant social relevance when they began.
        .
        You’re right, Shrikharan; we have no insight in to the thinking of the God of the Turkeys. Golding’s novel the “Lord of the Flies” should also provoke us in to thinking.
        .
        Malcolm Ranjith now seems to be making an effort to distance himself from his original statement with a “render unto Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s” interpretation.
        .
        Both he and the Mahanayakes must understand that neither Jesus nor Gauthama was trying to found a State, and talk about how a State should be run. Both lots want political POWER and INFLUENCE.
        .
        I’m not for a moment trying to say that clergy have NO role to play in politics. We are still grateful to Ven. Sobhitha for all that he did in his final years. It may be that the same could be said of Ven. Baddegama Samitha – who is not an overly pious humbug. The current Pope, Francis, can also be respected in the same way. Going back much further, to the German Martin Luther, one could say that such people got embroiled in political struggles, and probably came to realise the many dilemmas they consequently faced.
        .
        On the other hand, a guy like Malcolm Ranjith had sold himself to the devils (in his case to the Rajapaksas), and now to whoever wields power.

      • 0
        0

        Henry Fernando,

        “Then why is it allowed to eat turkey in Christmas?”

        And eat fish on Fridays? Fish has no life because it swims on the water?

    • 0
      0

      God and read the Bible again

  • 3
    0

    Don’t mix religious precepts for following by individuals with State necessities. The State has to follow pragmatism- does it work or not. Even if one were to argue that the death penalty is not a deterrent it doesn’t mean its abolition will improve things. It can only make things worse or at best remain unchanged. But which is the result cannot be conclusively derived and proved. But commonsense should prevail. Its removal when crime is rampant is likely to send the wrong signal to would be criminals.

    • 0
      0

      Dear Raja,
      .
      Thanks for your pragmatism.
      .
      You have not pontificated.

  • 5
    1

    It’s all very simple. If the Cardinal says he approves of the death penalty let him carry out the first execution.

  • 7
    2

    Cardinal is going to disrobe and will take up politics very soon. He will form a new party with the help of the medamulana morons.
    He is making a lot of political speeches these days.

  • 4
    0

    When the news of Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s endorsement of the death penalty appeared, I thought it was fake. Very disappointed that it was not.
    Does he not know that this provision will be used to harass the poor but never the kingpins? This is ‘one-oh-one’ stuff.

  • 3
    1

    Christians Cardinlas endorsing death penalty , Buddhist monks endorsing Hitler, Muslim imams endorsing fatwa……the Miracle of Asia?

  • 3
    0

    I read the articles preceding this one regarding the execution of death sentences on drug kingpins in Sri Lanka. One presumably was an impassioned plea not to do so and the other was mostly about the law applicable and the judicial precedents in other territories. The statement alleged to have been made by “EMINENTICIUM REVERENDICIUM DOMINUM ALBERTO COLOMBA SANTA ROMANE CLICI CARDINALE RANJITH” urges me to comment. Needless to say that he owes an explanation to his superior, His Holiness the Pope. If one notes carefully it is not every person deemed to be a trafficker under death sentence is to be executed but chaps who are supposed to continue to run the business from the premises of the prison while under death sentence. On the surface it looks very fair, doing away with the worst of the worst. Is it? NO! The traffickers earn a sizable buck (guesstimated as crores) even while in prison. So! Why not part a crore to us periodically if you want to live? Who has to report that they are engaged in the business while in prison? It is either the prison authorities or the police. If you pay the fellows periodically to shut their mouths then you live. Even if they do report who will next decide? The administrative machinery of the palace, loaded with administrative jokers who get their palms greased regularly. (Perhaps Mr. Austin Fernando was an exception leaving some clues behind in his farewell speech.) I, for one, do not think that the guys who got caught in hotel car parks an exception. In fact the ability to anything and everything what is told is the qualification to be there. Of course! Do not get caught in the act! If so you are dumped.

    • 2
      0

      Yes, you have the “Good Sense” to see how this will get implemented. The worst and most prosperous crooks will enjoy their comforts (even if in prison) whilst some poor innocents will get hanged.
      .
      I’m sure that you would have read about Dr I.H.K. Mahanama in the car park; I wonder if you remember the many comments I made on the CT article, relating how I, as a stranger, found him nice, and even now I’m personally grateful to him. Certainly, it seemed an open and shut case, but I’m not going to throw stones!
      .
      The less said about the racist Malcolm Ranjith, the better!

  • 2
    0

    I thought the Vatican was pro life, particularly, with their stand on abortion even in the 21st century. Therefore, I would expect the Catholic church, in principal, to reject the death penalty, than support it.

    I wonder if Cardinal Ranjith consulted the Vatican beforehand or whether he was expressing his personal opinion in support of the death penalty. If Cardinal Ranjith expressed his own views in the best interest of the country, I would assume he would still have his knuckles rapped for undermining the views of the Catholic church (unless, of course, the Vatican has no interest in the subject) or is he trying to get on the gravy train, which is politics in SL, as done by some of the highly placed (but misinformed) Buddhist monks who have reinvented Buddhism?

    I am sure Cardinal Ranjith is aware that Jesus has said who should cast the first stone, so as a true Christian, does he think there is anyone in SL who can give this judgement?

    • 0
      0

      Some “Religious Dignitaries” are the nastiest persons you can find. Pope Francis is a refreshing exception.
      .
      In some cases it is because they have come to believe that they are literally in communion with God, and others must accept. See how we are getting nowhere with Muslim MMDA.
      .
      Others believe that going to any lengths to defend God’s position is justified (casuistry). In certain respects the stubborn Sinhala-Buddhist stand on Aryanism and Gauthama having specially selected us, is like that; will you, please take my word for it that there has been an amazing improvement in this area. It is only recently that I realised how justified Tamils are in claiming unique antiquity for your language – but don’t overdo it – there will be unfair and stubborn resistance to our granting that.
      .
      If you have hours to spare, look at how stubborn the Anglican Church is on this problem that I have highlighted in three articles. You could work backwards from the last:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-thomian-pharisees-are-unrepentant-why-this-matters-to-all-sri-lankans/
      .
      Even my e-mail address is there. It is amazing how not one word has come from an authoritative source contradicting what I have said there. The problem continues, but this is not the time to rake it up formally: that, too, will come only in 2020 – like Presidency of our country.
      .
      Getting long – will continue . . .

      • 0
        0

        I apologise for my fuzziness having resulted in my continuation appearing way below this.

  • 2
    1

    Ranjith Malcolm just repeats what Old Royals dictates to him to tell. He has no his own mind. He is not a Catholic, by behavior. He is Sinhala Buddhist, by adaptation.

  • 4
    0

    Carinal Malcolm Ranjith is a person, while being the head of the Catholic Religion in Sri Lanka, blatantly lied when he said “No Christian places of worship were attacked in Sri Lanka” where there were ample evidence in the news media and TV. Cardinal Ranjith got personal santhosams from Mahinda Rajapakse and he is now trying extremely hard to bring Rajapakse back to power to gain more personal benefits. For a Christian, that too the head of the Christian Church in Sri Lanka, to support death penalty shows the extremism he harbors in his heart. Jesus said “show the other cheek when you are slapped on one”, well as per Cardinal Ranjith “Cut the neck of the slapper”. Its time all the Catholics in the country petition the Pope to remove Cardinal Ranjith immediately from his position.

    • 1
      0

      Dear Christian Convert,
      .
      I hope you never regret your conversion: I’m sure it means a lot to you, but there are so many slips you make owing to the contradictions that have crept in after Jesus died:
      .
      “Christian” covers everything. “Catholic” means world-wide, but you can get these guys mad by calling them “Roman Catholic”. They’ll object to the adjective, saying that they are the only true Church. The current Pope Francis at least has a sense of humour! Malcolm Ranjith – what a sorry worm!
      .
      The Orthodox Christians hardly matter in Sri Lanka, unless you happen to meet somebody who traces his line back to Kerala’s Syrian Orthodox Church. My Aquinas English teacher, Kuruvilla, was one such – but non-practicing. Visakha Vidyalaya Principal, Mrs Pulimood was practicing.
      .
      A confusing array of Protestants – the most obnoxious to me being the recent Evangelists. No intellect there. Few will know that their “inspiration” was John Calvin.
      .
      Anglicans – “High Church”: they say they believe in one “Catholic Church” – see the Creed which dates back to 1549. “The Low Church” – one might say the Puritans.
      .
      One admirable group, The Quakers, have no creed. How can you reduce the mystery of life to some set beliefs which everyone is made to parrot?

  • 0
    4

    Whether Pope, Cardinal, Bishop or any church leader, they are capable of saying things which are not fully accurate. The bible is inspired scripture revealed for holy and godly living, rarely seen in it’s fulness. “Thou shall not kill” is for personal vendetta on humans. Bible differentiates motives of man slaughter from murder, which includes differing degrees of judicial punishment.
    In state govt., biblical command in Rom.13, is to be subject to governing authority as all authority comes from and is appointed by God and ordinance of God is not to be resisted, as the govt. does not bear the sword in vain. Rulers are not a terror for good works, but for evil where wrath is executed, and conscience cleansed with regard to safe guarding all civilian life in freedom and liberty, when a polluting societal destruction is uprooted from their midst. Death penalty is judicial for society, a planned purpose being carried out through a state procedure and protocol.
    Killing in a war situation is governed by military procedure and may be kangaroo courts whether in a rebellious national uprising or between nations.
    Abortion is not acceptable as it eliminates an unprotected voiceless innocent life.

    Jesus praying reconciliation ” FATHER FORGIVE” applies to all situations as he carried all sin and karma of all humans to the cross, so that all who receive the free gift of eternal life, Isa.53, have reconciling forgiveness and cleansing from all acknowledged sin and karma. Christian belief is that those who commit murder, death penalty, killing in war, abortion, killing animals can eventually be turned into good through the Love of God paying the price of sin, applying the exchange of his mercy and empowering grace in covenant, his awesome revealed goodness.

  • 1
    0

    The problemis Christianity over the time, changed it policies. Why a religion wanted to control every bit of human life saying it is the almighty who did all these. Now in some parts of the world christianity is athtiest, no more Creator, there are 41000 0r more ways to goto the Creator. some say you can so many wives as in Islam can you can go to the Creator. On the other hand, there is Evengelist buddhism which uses buddhism to uplife the christianity and there is Islamic Evengelism which uses christianiity to modify Islam. what a disaster.

  • 1
    0

    “The Cardinal’s endorsement of the death penalty also comes at a time when the global support for the death penalty is increasing”

    Think practical:

    1. The reason is that these traffickers operate from their cells. As long as they are alive, they have the potential to destroy the society, because they live with hope that they can one day come out of the cells to enjoy the wealth, if not while they can, they will earn the wealth they can for their own generation

    2. Why should the government torture the lives of these prisoners for decades inside cells provided the jail conditions in SL? This is bad for the prisoners, and bad for the government who spend people’s money on maintenance of jails?

    So those who are against the death sentence, valid question would be, “Free them or execute them? What is the choice?

    • 0
      0

      I like to hear from those who against death penalty if some of their daughters or wife’s raped by criminals?

    • 1
      0

      Dear Isharath,
      .
      The Death Penalty is wrong. Plus a wrong guy is sometimes executed. Plus Judicial systems favour the rich. + + More Plus than anything else: Sri Lanka’s Judicial System has possibly become one of the worst in the world.
      .
      However, you are emphatically right in one thing: most of us are old. We don’t yet realise just how much the thinking processes of young people are being affected by technology giving humans more than they can handle.

  • 0
    0

    because he knew that even only son of the god had Neil to death by people so what and why not drug dealer should not get death penalty? this list be included corrupted politicians. and monk who carry out blessing to them .that is the only way this country can rebuild

  • 0
    0

    Continuing . . .
    .
    Most adherents of religions are probably sincere in stubbornly holding on to the ridiculous stands that they take.
    .
    However, years of making these claims, I’m sure result in SOME of these guys become knowing crooks; the worst of crooks.
    .
    How else can one explain away the fact that ex-Bishop Shantha Francis of Kurunegala, systematically drew his dead mother-in-law’s pension for more than five years, having got the dying woman’s finger print on a sheaf of blank forms?
    .
    There was also ex-Rev. Mathew Peiris, the exorcist, who murdered with years of meticulous planning. Incidentally, he was the guy who “converted” the Bandaranaike assassin, Bhikku Somarama to Christianity, before he was executed.
    .
    To those who want to know what is wrong with people at the top of our Sri Lanka hierarchy, I say again, examine carefully the FACTS that emerge from clicking on the link I have given. I’m not an Anonymous person; the problems continue. Once you get there, every conceivable detail about me emerges from stuff put on by proxies of the Establishment. Every point countered by me – in too great detail, perhaps. Which last fact makes it necessary to warn you that it could take hours to examine all; but if you are adept at skimming and scanning, fifteen minutes would do.

  • 2
    0

    Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith is a disgrace to the Catholic Church.He said nothing when Christians and Muslims were persecuted under previous regime and so many journalists disappeared.The churches were attacked and Pastors of other christian traditions were attacked in their homes.The Cardinal was silent at the time.Only the Previous and present Archbishops of the Anglican Church supported the oppressed and spoke up for their rights.The Cardinal has far reaching ambitions of climbing up the Vatican Ladder .If he becomes the Pope you will sure know that they end of days is here.No other Archbishop before him indulged in propaganda for the political regime .The only eligible man for the post of Cardinal is Bishop Oswald Gomis a well respected academic and scholar.I am writing this as a Catholic.As for the death penalty we should refine our legal system with getting rid of the corrupt and greedy lawyers and law makers.The fornsic and Judicial system should protect and uphold justice for the Rich and poor alike.

  • 2
    0

    Leaders of all faiths jealously guard their followers, for fear that they will lose their power base.

    One fine day, people will finally realise that all religion does is shackle you, usually at birth, to one big con. The sooner we free ourselves, the better. Our time and money will be better spent on things that we ALL care about.

    The thought that crooked and devious politicians can ‘safeguard’ religion should warn all of us away from this nonsense.

  • 3
    0

    The entire comments against The Cardinal’s approval is extremely hypocritical.

    I can only say that the venom that has been suppressed against him on personal grounds by some individuals are spilling out under the fake disguise of Crocodile tears on caring for humanity for the ruthless .

    As much as other religious figures have the right to endorse or oppose so does The Cardinal.

    No need to compare Sri Lanka with Philippines.

    That country and Sri Lanka are Chalk & Cheese .

    Its time the death penalty is approved ,not just death penalty ,we also need corporal punishment for other crimes.

    Someone need to save this Country .

    • 0
      0

      Long live the cardinal Choppe.

  • 2
    1

    Amerasiri the venomous atheist Sinhslese ,apu sapu ,seems to be going cooku these days.

    There aren’t a single group who’s hands are bloodless .

    The Catholic Church of today is not responsible of that of yesterday ,as much of the Germany and Japan of today are not responsible of the yesteryear’s

    Amerasiri the betrayer of his own Religion Buddhism and his own race Sinhalese ,has no business to condemn other faiths

    • 0
      0

      Lanka Nitizen,

      Stick to the subject at issue, and no need for ad hominem attacks.

      You can’t bury history. Those are facts. The Earth does spin on its axis and orbit the Sun.

      “There aren’t a single group who’s hands are bloodless.”

      While this is true, the degree of bloodiness of the Catholic Church over the past 2,000 years far outstrips the bloodiness of all other groups, combined, and the Catholic Church have not sent anybody to Heaven, Purgatory or Hell, yet despite all the Divine claims of the Infallible Popes and the Church.

      Hitchens about the Catholic Church

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZKOD-Qpu_4

      Summary of sins over 20 centuries.

      Crusades, Inquisition, the persecution of Jewish people, injustice to the natives and women, etc.

  • 2
    0

    The last thing I sincerely never want Sri Lanka to end up as. ,is Like Mexico .

    Especially when the the Port City. Opens up.

    It won’t be fair to blame any government in power when it happens ,let it be the present or SLPP .

    When you have speedy economic projects by shredding our cultural economics to copy the developed nations ,with the money will come all the ills and you just can’t have the cake and eat the cake.

    Its best put our safety belts before we take off ,I agree it will not eliminate it totally ,but at least it will control it and safeguard our nation .

    Religious leaders of all faiths must put aside all difference and come together to protect our youngsters when the port city opens , by the day we see the culture sadly diminishing and vanishing

    I hope. They will ,the thought of a speedy advancing Sri Lanka makes my skin shrink .

  • 1
    0

    The current Cardinal’s appointment was a mistake made by Vatican. He acts more as a political stooge and a racist

  • 0
    0

    Catholics preaching to the bishop. Cathilics saying their religion is changing over the time about various social issues and they do not have one specific view on social issues. It looks the creator does not have one specific view and he/she is chaing as the society changes. Some say “YOU ARE YOUR OWN CREATOR”. I heard Kanni Marriya was born very poor in Portugal and were walking through countries as they were poor. They understood that she was pregnent when they traversed Adis Ababa and they reached Jeruslaem by the time the baby was delivered. Eventually the Jesus lived with God Daimunda and he knows the story.

    • 0
      0

      Jim S, One specific issue for all followers of Christ is to receive forgiveness through the exchange of sin, and healing through the exchange of sickness, when Jesus prayed “Father forgive” at the cross. He commanded communion to partake of his nature “Take eat, Drink ye” Cardinal does not allow full communion except for priests watched by people and one day they will account. Other Christian churches have full communion and reconciliation with much healing and deliverance of drug addicts,

  • 0
    0

    Shrikaharan, Thank you for the rejoinder, further clarification will entail a lengthy
    dialogue. However to a believer no explanation is necessary, but to a non-believer no explanation is possible.

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