16 July, 2019

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Catholic Priests And Activists Urge Cardinal To Refrain From Using His Office To Undermine Human Rights

A group of Catholic priests and activists have written a letter to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith urging him to refrain from using his position to bring the Catholic faith into disrepute, to mislead Catholic faithful and to undermine the human rights framework and discourses which have universal applicability, including to Sri Lanka, and which have been welcomed by successive Popes.

Cardinal Malcom Ranjith

“Instead, please support, encourage and lead the faithful, including the clergy, religious and laity, to become more aware of human rights and get involved in struggles for human rights, in line with the 2013 pastoral letter’s call to “collaborate with God in preserving the dignity and the rights of all,” not to say all the broader Catholic teachings related to human rights,” the letter says.

The full text of the letter and its signatories are as follows:

11th October 2018

His Eminence,

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith,

Archbishop’s House, Borella,

Colombo 08, 

Sri Lanka

Your Eminence, 

Human Rights are integral to Christian faith. As Catholic Clergy, Religious and Laity from different Catholic dioceses and different congregations in Sri Lanka, we were shocked at some of your recent comments saying that there was nothing called ‘human rights,’ that human rights came recently, that they constitute a new western religion, meant for those without a religion, that they are a myth to be “careful” about, and that those who believe in (and practice) a religion don’t need to talk about human rights. 

We have also read the ‘clarification’ you provide to the Daily Mirror and comments by your secretary, Rev. Fr. Subasinghe, which in no way provide a different interpretation of your comments in the homily, and which appear, overall, to be aimed at undermining the human rights discourse and frameworks. We are deeply disappointed that nowhere in the 12 minutes of your speech do you explain the strong Catholic teachings on human rights. While you highlight that “replacing religion with human rights is not what is to be done,” what you seem to be advocating for is to “replace human rights with religion,” despite oppressive and discriminatory past and present practices of religions, including Catholicism, not to mention complicity with perpetrators. We note that even before this, you have implied human rights are a western imposition that might damage our culture.

Human rights is about all human beings being able to live in dignity, without discrimination, want or fear. Which is very much in line with our faith as Catholics that all human beings are equal and were created in the image of God. Human rights play a key role in Catholic Social Teachings. The principle of human rights is universal, insists on freedom of religion and belief for all, captures fundamental teachings of religious and spiritual traditions about human dignity, equality etc., but also challenges discriminatory and oppressive past and present practices of religions including Catholicism. 

In 1979, Pope John Paul II described the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a “real milestone on the path of the moral progress of humanity” and in 1995, that it “remains one of the highest expressions of the human conscience of our time.”

‘Ecclesia in Asia,’ from Pope John Paul II after the Asian Bishops meeting in 1998, recognizes that “(t)he various international declarations on human rights and the many initiatives which these have inspired are a sign of growing attention on a worldwide level to the dignity of the human person,” together with the “need for all God’s people in Asia to come to a clear awareness of the inescapable and unrenounceable challenge involved in the defence of human rights.”

More recently, we are heartened and instructed by many pronouncements of Pope Francis in relation to human rights. (For example, “Let us all work decisively so that no one is excluded from the effective recognition of their fundamental human rights” on 2016 international human rights day). This year, in his annual address to the ambassadors accredited to the Vatican, Pope Francis chose to focus on the UDHR on its 70th anniversary, affirming its preamble that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” He went on to say that “(f)rom a Christian perspective, there is a significant relation between the Gospel message and the recognition of human rights in the spirit of those who drafted the UDHR,” that “they [rights in the UDHR] were proclaimed in order to remove the barriers that divide the human family.” Pope Francis insists that “to speak of human rights means above all to restate the centrality of the human person, willed and created by God in his image and likeness” and that “traditions of individual peoples cannot be invoked as a pretext for disregarding the due respect for the fundamental rights proclaimed by the UDHR.”

We are also reminded that the 2013 Pastoral Letter by all the Catholic Bishops in Sri Lanka, to which you are also a signatory, has a dedicated chapter on human rights, which asserts that “any cases on the violation of fundamental rights need to be courageously looked into” and that “programmes of formation of the general public on fundamental rights and their inalienable value should be priorities for Sri Lanka.”

As Sri Lankan Catholics, we recognize the relevance and applicability of universally recognized human rights to Sri Lanka. And that promoting and protecting the human rights of all is a fundamental and integral vocation of all Catholics, along with others of different religious beliefs and those with no religious beliefs.  

We see your comments as your personal opinion. We find it difficult to believe your comments represent the faith of the Catholics in the Archdiocese of Colombo and we are conscious that you don’t represent in anyway the other 11 Catholic dioceses, or the many Catholic Religious Congregations and Lay movements in Sri Lanka.

We appeal to you to refrain from using your position to bring the Catholic faith into disrepute, to mislead Catholic faithful and to undermine the human rights framework and discourses which have universal applicability, including to Sri Lanka, and which have been welcomed by successive Popes. Instead, please support, encourage and lead the faithful, including the clergy, religious and laity, to become more aware of human rights and get involved in struggles for human rights, in line with the 2013 pastoral letter’s call  to “collaborate with God in preserving the dignity and the rights of all,” not to say all the broader Catholic teachings related to human rights. 

We look forward to a response from you. 

Respectfully yours in Christ,

  1. Rev. Sr. Noel Christine Fernando 
  2. Rev. Fr. Nandana Mantunga, Director, Human Rights Office 
  3. Rev. Fr. J.M. Joseph Jeyaseelan, CMF 
  4. Rev. Fr. F. J. G. Croos (Nehru)  
  5. Rev. Fr. .V.Yogeswaran,s.j  
  6. Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos  
  7. Rev. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda  
  8. Rev. Fr. S. Jayawardena 
  9. Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Fernando, OMI  
  10. Rev. Fr. Eric Lakman, OMI  
  11. Rev. Fr. Sriyan  
  12. Rev. Fr. Gerard Rosairo, OMI  
  13. Rev. Fr. Ashok Stephen OMI, Attorney-at-law, Executive Director, Centre for Society and Religion 
  14. Ms. Melanie Pereira 
  15. Mr. Aruna Shantha Nonis 
  16. Mr. Edward Mariathas  
  17. Mr. Herman Kumara 
  18. Mr. Philip Setunga  
  19. Ms. Deanne Uyangoda  
  20. Ms. Marisa De Silva  
  21. Mr. Nilshan Fonseka  
  22. Mr. Ruki Fernando
  23. Mr. M. Ratnasabapathy 
  24. Mr. Johann Peiris
  25. Ms. Kshama Ranawana  
  26. Mr. Arjuna Ranawana  
  27. Annemari de Silva 
  28. Melanie Jayawardena
  29. Rohan Jayawardena
  30. NP Bulathsinghala
  31. Kathy Bulathsinghala
  32. Tasha Bulathsinghala
  33. Asantha Sirimanne
  34. Anoushka Wilson
  35. Raisa Wickrematunge
  36. Masha Fernando
  37. Coralie Pietersz
  38. Rihan Ayamperuma
  39. Luwie Ganeshathasan
  40. Prof Wilfred Perera
  41. Navin Perera
  42. A. M. De Alwis
  43. Indran Amirthanayagam
  44. Brian Emmanuel
  45. Catherine Mack
  46. Tyronne Paiva
  47. Eshantha Joseph Peiris
  48. Sanjay Cangasabey
  49. MJA Stanislaus
  50. Crystal Koelmeyer
  51. P R Canagaratna
  52. Eugenie Mack
  53. Maureen Ernest
  54. Fr Aloysius Pieris
  55. Matilda Lazarus
  56. Lucille Abeykoon
  57. Shivantha Rathnayake
  58. Dulan de Silva, Chairman Give2Lanka (Gte) Ltd
  59. Joanne Senn
  60. Sandun Thadugala, A Catholic Human Rights Activist
  61. Chandrika Gadiewasam, writer
  62. P Selvaratnam, Women for Justice and Peace Sri Lanka
  63. Rev Fr R Augustine
  64. Prema Gamage
  65. Caryll Tozer
  66. Dr Mario Gomez
  67. Suren D Perera
  68. Emil van der Poorten, Supporter of Civic and Human Rights
  69. Dinushika Dissanayake
  70. Sr Nichola SCJM
  71. Peter Rezel
  72. Godfrey Malarnesan 
  73. Fr Pan Jordan OP, Coordinator, Pax Christi, Queensland 
  74. Chantal Cooke
  75. Fr J M Joseph Jayaseelan CMF
  76. Francis Raajan
  77. Amalini De Sayrah
  78. Kshama Ranawana
  79. Fr. Jeevantha Peiris
  80. Nathan Koblintz
  81. Nadeesh Jayasinghe
  82. Anupama Ranawana
  83. Nandini Gunawardena
  84. Isha Miranda
  85. Nadine Vanniasinkam
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Latest comments

  • 7
    1

    All comments are words of God.Even the Cardinals words. The god guide us all.When a priest abuses a child when a plane crsshes earth quakes tsunamis not forgetting the rescued are all gods work. Albert Einstein said that god is a creation ot human weakness.

    • 3
      0

      Yes god wanted Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith to say those words so the he could be excommunicated…

  • 2
    2

    JVP has exposed some Dollar 22 millionof Mahinda Rajapakse that was hidden in Hog Kong and later transferred to different companies and different individuals. JVP hqad said they would present the all the documentation to the media. How evef it is known that money came from COmmis came from his Trip to UNIOTED NATINs – Can you believe that. the next important thing is Maithripala sirisena was NOT THAT NASTY. He got only dollar 2 million. That is why they all say WE DO NOT STEAL. WHAT WE GET GET IS WHAT IS GIVEN. I think People know what ever you get as the govt employee, is woend by the govt and not to the individual. How come politicians pay extra or collect commissions. I think doe snot know who Mahinda Rajapakse got $ 22 million in a Hong Kong Bank account.

  • 3
    0

    Another news. One Higher official who is running the proram Wana ropa I suppose has separated either Rs 30 lakhs or Rs 30 million for his personal use. Maitrhipala Knows what happened to that money probably to future election uses.

  • 0
    0

    Missing money from the Wana ROpa program is something new (God Dedi Munda, Devi Nuwara, Maha Nuwara, ambekka, Seenigama)

  • 9
    1

    This is not about religion or country. This is about an individual who is abusing his position,power and the trust people have placed on him.There were quite a few flag carriers/proxies of the cardinal who appeared in previous discussions with the sole purpose of bidding. They are not the real followers and dosent really have faith in their own religion. They were just like the cardinal trying to weaponize religion. It is good to see some sensible people of the same faith willing to come out and express their opinion on this matter.

  • 6
    1

    Perhaps an explanation for the Cardinal’s unChristian behaviour is there in Sarvan’s article on the KKK which mentions the Cardinal by name.

    Sagittarius

  • 7
    0

    What poppycock. The basic tenet of the new testament is treat others the way you want others to treat you. On this hang all the other laws. Now, isn’t this human right.

    Catholicism, even from the Holy Roman Empire Era, undermined human rights, forcing their religious concept on the captives.. They still do so in the former of the present cardinal. What a shot load.

  • 13
    3

    Sri Lanka Miracle of Asia where Buddhist monks preach racism and lead riots against minority and cardinals who denounce human rights

    • 6
      0

      Rajash,

      Sri Lanka, a Land Like No Other, where Religion is the Opium of the Masses, as was climeed by Karl Marx.

  • 2
    6

    The Catholic Church stood for what is just and right since the Middle Ages although it had to make some accommodation to the economic and social needs of the Feudal era. I am afraid the Archbishop is right- we should not be carried away by modern slogans. The Christian teaching in the Ten Commandments to love they neighbor as thyself sums up all that is needed.
    R.M.BSenanayake

    • 0
      0

      Raja Senanayake is a man I have learnt to respect. He is caught on the horns of a dilemma.
      .
      I don’t agree with what he says here. I, myself, don’t consider myself to be a religious guy, but I think I understand what he’s saying.
      .
      TRUTH in the religious sense is different from scientific truth , I guess.
      .
      Repeat, I respect Raja, but not the Cardinal.

    • 1
      0

      You need to study a little history. Ever heard of the Cathars? How about what happened to the Knights Templar and the burning alive at the stake of De Molier the grand master and his fellows monks from whence came Friday the 13th and the bad omens? How about the countless women falsely accused of witchcraft and also burned alive at the stake. The inhumanity of the R.C. church is legendary especially in the middle ages. I learned the hard way and eventually accepted these facts even though I was also a born and bred Catholic myself. Please stop making foolish statements that can easily be checked. The catholic church never stood for what is just and right quite the opposite. I can go one and on counting the many examples but shall refrain.

    • 0
      0

      Raja S.,

      Love thy neighbour. Thats exactly what Father Mathew Peris did. He went a bit further following Ten commandments. Love thy neighbours wife and kill your wife and her her husband.

  • 9
    2

    Had I known I would have also signed this letter the Cardinal. I fully ebdorse its contents.

  • 5
    15

    These are element who attack our holy father. These are not Catholics but conspirators. God will look after them I hope.

    • 6
      0

      Time to call for the excommunication of this evil cardinal who is a child of the devil who has infiltrated the church. Evil has no place in the house of god.

  • 3
    3

    I can understand the rest but Prema Gamage No (64); how dare you?

  • 3
    0

    Since the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic Church, all reform and standing for human rights begin here. This is where the Cardinal has violated human rights by asking all churches to put up altar rails to separate the good people (the clergy) on one side and the bad people (the laity ) on the other side. Secondly he has also asked the faithful to kneel down and receive communion on their tongue which is the worst place place of their body Cf. James 3, 26). When Jesus Celebrated the Last super with his disciples He respected his disciples with dignity. In the history of the church the laity were supposed to receive communion on the tongue due to the fact that they engaged in sex which was considered to be sinful. This is all rubbish. So first of all the cardinal needs to reform himself and follow the Gospel.

    • 0
      0

      We are talking here about the Cardinal’s take on human rights which he seems to have got completely wrong. Alter rails and receiving the Eucharist on the tongue is a different matter. These are not the Cardinal’s rules but guidelines from Rome to encourage faithful to receive the Eucharist kneeling as a sign of reverence. Receiving the Eucharist on the tongue is also a sign of reverence and was the norm until it was allowed otherwise after Vatican 2. Bringing back both practices is good in the light of the present lack of reverence for things sacred.

    • 0
      0

      OMG! Is that the reason for the wafer being placed on the tongue?
      .
      That means some Catholic clergy were not just innocent. They were naive. The tongue has many uses.

      • 0
        0

        Let God do his work. Man must act with prudence but God allows man to make mistakes for otherwise there can be no human freedom. Human Freedom seems to be all important for both God and man.Let us not waste time arguing about trifles about how the Eucharist is to be received. What is important is that Jesus wanted us to consume his flesh – unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you will not have fellowship with me.It may sound strange and difficult to comprehend but that is his word.

      • 0
        0

        Who was not tamed by offering them something during the high days of ballige putha Rajakshes ?

        Remember that most ridiculous issues that MR offered journos free laptops
        Where on the earth journos are offered the kind of something in order to keep them close to the MR abusive poitics ?

        I think the wounds are reached to incurable levels today – MEDIA men work only for them today right, The govt moves, but nothing about the govt is being in the air, but against them… ALL CULPRIT work…

  • 5
    0

    When he has been ordained to spread the word of God in all its purity Bishop Malcom has clearly missed the bus and is attempting to dwell in politics and in particular to spread the word of Mahinda Rajapaksa. So sad that he is using his position to spread more sin by a corrupt regime. I hope the holy pope takes note.

  • 0
    0

    The constitution of Sri Lanka states under Chapter II, Article 9, “The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).”
    Do we need this in the constitution? Yes we do, given the mindset.
    .
    Secular nations like India does not have this.
    Pakistan’s state religion is Islam but restricted to one sect.
    Lanka is quasi-secular, sort of keep the cake and eat it.
    Given the mindset, the place of Buddhism is a foregone conclusion.
    Addition of “…….while assuring to ALL religions the rights granted by……..” is a necessity.
    Thanks to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith for the foresight in supporting this. ‘Others’ simply did not bother.

    • 0
      0

      We cannot follow the Western model. Buddhism in Sri Lanka has historically depended on State Patronage. As long as there is freedom to practice other religions and no animosity to followers of other religions I personally don’t mind State patronage for Buddhism since it is the majority religion. . In fact Buddhism has always depended on State patronage since it has not developed an independent Sasana. But it is important that there is complete freedom for the practice of other religions and their order of monks and independence to manage their affairs is maintained. The relative roles of the State and Religion have evolved through much dissension and even conflict in Europe. But in the East religion has been a dependency of the State and Buddhism has depended on State patronage.If Buddhism needs State patronage I don’t mind as it is the religion of the majority but there must be complete freedom to practice other religions and State non-interference in the organization and management of the Church or other relevant governing body of any other religion except at the specific request of those belonging to such religion and with the consent of its members. Religions other than Christianity and even Christianity during the Middle ages, have always depended on State sponsorship and support throughout their history.. Let history continue its evolutionary path and if these religions require State support let it be so but without discrimination against other religions in relationship to the rights and obligations vis a vis the State..

  • 5
    0

    Thanks to the petitioners for raising the human rights issue.
    Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith is a paper violator (if at all).
    Will the petitioners also write to the real violators please? No ‘open letter’ but individually addressed please.
    Reminds one “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.”

  • 3
    4

    The issue is very small – a problem of semantics. Why make such a fuss?

  • 5
    9

    The Cardinal is too inteligent for these morons to understand what his imminence said

    • 0
      1

      Yes, but the sad part on you talk is too sharp also full blunt. Probably that this where the Cardinal has fallen.

  • 4
    13

    May the good Lord punish these 85 people who cause division in our Catholic Church

    • 3
      1

      Jayaluxmi Muthuthamby, the good lord will chase this evil cardinal out of the house of god the he is once again trying to turn into a den of thieves… blessing the courageous people who stand up to evil for they are the salt of the earth. God is with them and not with this evil that has infiltrated the house of god…

  • 3
    1

    This cardinal should be called the cardinal Koloma. The reason he ocssionaly puts his foot in his mouth has to do with his background. For example Thomas Cardinal Coorey would have never said what this one did. He was the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Doubling down on church dogma is his m.o. In his eyes liberal world views such as human rights are evil and the work of the devil. However, catholic priests abusing children must be covered up and not reported while hiding behind the excuse of the confessional. Confession itself a product of catholic dogma is a ridiculous invention of the church to harras its followers into total submission.

  • 4
    1

    For all the religious fanatics who are blind to see the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, today Vatican has confirmed sacking of few bishop/cardinals who are guilty of abuse though the flag bearers kept denying it.One from India/Kerala where the accused tried to slander the victim nun as a prostitute(this is what flag bearers and cheer leaders do) and few from Chile has been found guilty. The low life from Lanka should have been kicked out long before, but he is out there continuing with his half backed sermons only because he is in miracle nation. Also I hear Mrs Wirawansa is being grilled in plot to harm MR.Now our ball carriers may know the answer for that. Any one ??? If you keep feeding a snake with milk you will end up getting bitten one day. Madam Jeyaluxmi can 85 people be wrong about one person??? Fortunately The Good Lord is much smarter than what you think.

  • 2
    5

    causing diviision and split within the church is a sin leading to hell. these 85 buffoons are unnecessarily going to hell. I hope they will not suffer there too much.

    • 5
      1

      Sigmay Chikera, it is people like you who are going to hell for playing your part and attempting to turn the house of god into a den of thieves once again… god is with everyone who put their names down they are the salt of the earth. God is with those who have the courage to clean up the church just like Jesus did. Matthew 21:13

  • 2
    5

    The moment his eminence was appointed as head of the catholic church some jelous pepople conspired against his eminence. Now they think they have an opportunity. They are the losers. By displyaing names they showed their nakedness to the whole world including God.

    We are watching from UK.

    • 3
      2

      Tom Henderson, nothing wrong in exposing evil that is trying to infiltrate the Christian Church… this Cardinal is trying to turn the house of god into a den of thieves…

  • 1
    9

    Tamils are attacking the Cardinal. Stop this NOW.

    • 3
      0

      I’m also attacking him; and I shall continue to do so.
      .
      Laura, who the hell are you to issue orders to all of us?

  • 2
    9

    So they can muster only 85 names, even some of the names sound dubious. I doubt some name bearing people actually exist

    • 3
      2

      Time to report this to the pope and call for the Excommunication fo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith. #Excommunication #PopeFrancis

    • 1
      1

      Bilimoria sounds dubious to me. Parsi?

  • 1
    1

    The petitioners are idealists. The Cardinal is a realist.
    .
    Compare the Cardinal with the Asgiriya number 2 who wants “Be a Hitler if the need arises”
    Or ACJU insisting that MMDA1950 is perfect as is where is.
    The Lankan Hindus do not have the equivalent of ACJU yet – at least not yet.

  • 1
    3

    These guys who shed crocodile tears for Human Rights are a strange species.
    Anonymous – The House of God has already been turned into a den for Terrorists when S.J.Emmanuel with Chandrakantha & Rayappu propagated Pirabhaharan was Jesus Christ.

    [edited out]

    • 0
      1

      Agree thondamany. We didn’t see such pious statements from these so called human rights defenders then (& even now) on these matters. The sacrificial blood of child soldiers are on their hands………

    • 1
      0

      Bishop Rayappu did not do that — equating Prabhakaran to Jesus Christ. He is not in a position to answer this charge. The other two can speak for themselves.

  • 2
    8

    I am 100% sure Colombo Telegraph is running a calculated anti cardinal campaign. I know this comment will not be published

    • 5
      0

      Your knowledge is not accurate, is it?

      • 0
        0

        Sinhala_Man, ‘Knowledge is not accurate’, sounds awkward. Am I accurate, I mean correct!

        • 0
          0

          Thanks, Thappu.
          .
          You’re probably correct!

    • 1
      2

      I tend to agree with wassa……

    • 3
      0

      Wassa,
      Try and pull that one with the Daily Mirror.

    • 2
      0

      wassa

      “I know this comment will not be published”

      We know Colombo Telegraph has a policy of not depriving us fun. Therefore CT abides by its own conscious decision.
      Please continue to entertain us.

  • 3
    0

    The Cardinal is wrong in playing down human rights and in his advocacy of the death penalty. He might not be aware that the Church revised its stance forcefully this Aug. 2. The Church is for human rights, an outgrowth of the Church’s assertion that God loves each of us. Here is what Catholic News Service had to say:

    Pope revises catechism to say death penalty is ‘inadmissible’
    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Building on the development of Catholic Church teaching against capital punishment, Pope Francis has ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to assert “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and to commit the church to working toward its abolition worldwide.
    The catechism’s paragraph on capital punishment, 2267, already had been updated by St. John Paul II in 1997 to strengthen its skepticism about the need to use the death penalty in the modern world and, particularly, to affirm the importance of protecting all human life.
    Announcing the change Aug. 2, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said, “The new text, following in the footsteps of the teaching of John Paul II in ‘Evangelium Vitae,’ affirms that ending the life of a criminal as punishment for a crime is inadmissible because it attacks the dignity of the person, a dignity that is not lost even after having committed the most serious crimes.”

  • 4
    1

    All Catholics should sign a petition addressed to the Pope to remove this Cardinal from his post.

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