23 October, 2020

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My Role As Archbishop Of Canterbury & Appointing Bishop Of Colombo

By Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

Archbishop of Canterbury

The role of Archbishop of Canterbury is always surprising. It is a great humbling experience for those who would be foolish enough to believe that they were important. I have been told that I was too short, too untheological, and too English. 

The Anglican Communion is also a remarkable gathering. It arises from a history with many bad times to it, the history of colonialism and imperial rule. But in the power of God and through the teaching of Jesus Christ, the church slowly learned to separate faith and the flag and to become more what Christ designed for it to be, a holy people, belonging to God, who seek to bless the communities in which they live. 

There are about 80 million Anglicans in the world. The average one is not from the UK or the USA, but is a woman in sub-Saharan Africa, in her 30s, with a 50-50 chance of being in a place of persecution. She will be living in extreme poverty, probably on less than three US dollars per day.

The miracle of the church, for Christians, is not that it disagrees. After all, with over 2000 languages and cultures it is absurd to think that we would always be in agreement.

Fr. Dushantha Rodrigo

The miracle of the church is that we agree on the basics and the most important things, especially the obligation to love God and to love our neighbour. We agree on the nature of Jesus Christ. We agree on the love of God which reaches out to us. We don’t always, sometimes not often, practice what God has given us but we agree that when we do fail we are able to turn around and go in a different way, what Christians call repent, and seek the forgiveness of God and his power to do better in the future. 

So, what’s this got to do with Sri Lanka? Well, to go back to the first paragraph, one of the most surprising things about this job is I found that I had direct responsibility as what in the church is called a Metropolitan in all sorts of parts of the world. One of those was Sri Lanka. The Church of Ceylon had not joined in with the Church of South India when that was created in the late 1940s and had not formed its own independent and autonomous church at any time later. The Anglican Communion has 41 provinces and although if it were a province the Church of Ceylon would not be by any means be the smallest, it does need to form at least one possibly two more dioceses (area overseen by Bishop) in order to reach the minimum size. 

For historical reasons that had not happened and therefore a few weeks ago I found myself with responsibility for choosing the next Bishop of Colombo, because the electoral college had nearly but not quite been able to get a sufficient majority to make their own choice. 

I am sure you will gather from what I’ve already said that this is not what I think should happen. It is a model that needs to change, and I am sure it will. The Church of Ceylon must become a province of the Anglican Communion like every other province, fully autonomous but because we all belong to the same God interdependent and related to one another. The Archbishop of Canterbury is not like the Pope with authority over the different provinces, but more of a sort of patriarch, a first among equals, bringing them together. 

Earlier this week, after many people in Sri Lanka had given generously of their time and advice to me both in writing and with zoom calls in order for us to discuss the way forward, and after considerable prayer and reflection, I was able to offer the post of Bishop of Colombo to Father Dushantha Rodrigo. To my delight, he accepted. I don’t pretend that the role of Bishop is an easy one. You have to know how to lead your flock, and to care for them, to love them as you love yourself. You need to mix mercy with justice and to ensure that the church learns to look like Jesus Christ whom it worships. And yet, everyone in the church is a human being, with all the fallibilities and faults that go with our humanity, whether you are an Archbishop or a newly baptised disciple of Jesus Christ. 

I have no doubt that Father Dushantha will be a wonderful Bishop of Colombo. I believe that he is called by God to this post and I urge all those within the Church of Ceylon and especially the Diocese of Colombo, and also all those of goodwill to support him and welcome him, to advise him and help him. 

There is a wonderful passage in the book of the prophet Jeremiah in the Christian Old Testament, where exiles in Babylon write to the prophet Jeremiah and say “what are we to do, where in this terrible city, we’ve been exiled and all prophets and priests here tell us we will soon be back and everything will be okay”. Jeremiah replies many things, but the one that always sticks in my mind is “bless the place in which God has put you”. The call of the church is always to be a blessing to its community. It is to love the poor, to feed the hungry, to care for the sick, to visit the prisoner. It is to speak up for justice and truth. It is to give an example of reconciliation and hope. 

Sri Lanka is a wonderful, staggeringly beautiful, fertile country with exceptionally intelligent people of enormous capacity. I know that the Church of Ceylon will be a blessing to them. I pray for Sri Lanka, for government and opposition, for its judiciary and its people, for its armed services and its police, that all will seek the blessing of the nation and the common good of its people

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Latest comments

  • 8
    2

    If the good Archbishop had chosen otherwise and gone with the flow I would have lost all faith in the church and as I mentioned might have switched churches. However, voila! my faith is burning bright and my faith in humanity is restored thanx to his Lordship’s timely choice. Which also makes me reflect we really do not need to be a province do we parce que we can rely on those who are older, wiser and better to make the right decisions even when the odds seem against us. Old Blighty might have a colonial past but remember that our flagship schools all owe it to them. I don’t see why we need to divide ourselves into splinters when we are just a small country anyway. It is a bit confusing but methinks for the time being at least we are going fine with our bashful Archbishop!

  • 3
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    I see no comments on this article, but if accepted by the moderators, who also operate from the U.K., there may be five or six comments above mine.
    .
    Our “too short” and “too English” Metropolitan, Archbishop Welby, has charmingly blurted out that he is a simple man who had been surprised to find himself required to select the new Bishop of Colombo. Colombo Telegraph gave good coverage to this “story”. Some of their articles appear as “News Stories” and others as “Opinions”. It looks as though Justin Welby has humbly and deliberately placed this as an “Opinion”, perhaps to reach out to all Sri Lankans. Thank you. My better language is English, but my identity is “Sinhala_Man”. I don’t know Tamil, so I thought it would be arrogant to call myself “Sri Lankan_Man”.
    .
    Upto 1970, our Metropolitan was in Calcutta, starting 1814, I should think. The last was a Sri Lankan, Lakdasa de Mel. What Archbishop Welby appears to say is that we “missed the bus” in the 1940s when the CSI came into being. Even now, we should be joining that Church – we are too small to be a Province.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe aka “Sinhala_Man”

    • 0
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      Dumbo is highly suitable.

      • 1
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        Readers, I’m sorry about this:
        .

        To: Nawalage Charles Upasena Cooray, alias “hanchopancha”,
        .
        Have you got no conscience that even at the age of 83 (your your National Identity Card number reveals as much) you spew hatred. You forwarded to me (a complete stranger) at inordinate length some terribly complicated correspondence relating to a tiny land matter where your cupidity, was at fault, containing appeals even to “The Lord President of the Privy Council of England” in such a way that I had to reply:
        .
        ‘If the EQD (let me explain that the Examiner of Questioned Documents works for the Government Analyst) wanted the originals it is understandable.  If you haven’t got them, please don’t throw good money after bad. Drop all this.
        .

        ‘Also, what is the denotative meaning of these words?

        ” This is not about travesty of justice but sodomizing the blindfolded
        Lady Justice holding up high a scale by one hand a lance by the other.”
        .
        If you write rubbish like that, nobody will take you seriously’.

      • 1
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        PART II To “hanchopancha”
        .
        Now one finds that you are a toady of the Military Dictatorship to get somebody to make a ruling in your favour. I know nothing more of you than what you told me in the course of four days trying to get me to introduce you to the Don Quixote-like Nagananda Kodituwakku who had been naively but good-heartedly campaigning for the Presidency of the Republic. When I told you that there was no way that your selfish concerns would be take up by the idealistic Nagananda, and that I had taken only three minutes of his time, this is what you said:
        .
        “It sure sounds Nagananda does not suffer fools. 3 minutes must have been too much for him.”
        .
        Since then, you’ve been following me around making these snide comments. Get lost! You are incapable of rising above your petty concerns – but certainly, the teachers of the one-time Anglican School where you studied, St John’s, Nugegoda, have taught you too much English!

        • 0
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          Stupid_Man.
          You are sitting on your brains. You are an absolute idiot who has got no idea of what you are talking about. You got all the information upside down. I cannot put out what I would like to be published to cleanse your stupid brains because of the space limitations. If you can kindly jump into a lake, it will do the world a great big favour. The whole justice system has been perverted. The truth is morphed to lies and lies to truth. The counterfeit documents are accepted by the courts at the expense of ignoring the original gospel deeds by the power of bribery and corruption. Most importantly at your old age you still have not learnt to respect people’s privacy. I am ready to challenge even the God. If you can let me know whose pup you are then I can be more specific.

          It is an adversarial system of justice which is adopted in Srilanka and it has been turned upside down by the very people at the top of the hierarchy with highly publicized notorious reputations of their own.

          Your dumbness prevents you from knowing the tentacles of Judicial Mafia which are suffocating the administration.

          • 2
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            Dear Mr Cooray,
            .
            Part 1

            .
            I have re-read the plethora of emails and documents that you had sent me between 27th December 2019 and 1st January 2020. Didn’t we also talk on mobile phones? Nothing apart from that – except snide out of context remarks when I comment.
            .
            Yes, I now see that there are other strands. However, may I point out that when you had all my contact details you could have contacted me direct, instead of attempting to derail my serious concerns about Education?
            .
            What appals me is the lack of consistency on the part of Fahim Knight, who introduced you, and yourself, at this time of regime change in the country. This Knight had got into a tangle owing to defending Freemasons who are regarded as pure evil by many in the country. I came to his rescue by saying that although some things may seem weird, they are symbolic, and useful. I had been a Mason for some time, owing to the influence of a neighbour of great erudition on the subject. You will find lots written on the Internet by him in many languages. I will give just one.
            .
            https://freemasonrymatters.co.uk/freemasonry/introduction-to-the-higher-degrees-of-freemasonry-by-jacques-huyghebaert/

          • 1
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            Part 2
            .
            Jacques is an amazing man.
            He was actually Grandmaster of Czechoslovakia. Fahim wanted to talk to him – facilitated by me on the phone. A few inquiries about membership of Lodges etc, and then I was told that Fahim was a dilettante with no current membership – same as me!
            .
            Fahim also changed after the Elections. Once more it seemed to be a currying of favour.
            .
            I’ve also been having problems with a Dr Preethi Dharshana Wanasinghe, a man whom I have actually met a number of times during the past five years. The comments on this article should suffice:
            .
            https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-enliven-economic-revival/
            .
            The traps that anonymous commenters lay are worrying. Symbolism can co-exist with truth, but we can’t have lies.
            .
            As for what you say of the legal fraternity, add recent experiences to what Charles Dickens exposed in the 19th Century and they are damned. Could we please end this public discussion?
            .
            I end with apologies to all who may feel that these are irrelevancies which waste our time. I agree. Exposing them may help.

            • 0
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              Dear SM
              I had already submitted a comment before your above comment appeared.
              a) I am not a mind reader. nor b) They say you can take the man to the lamp post but cannot get him to see the light which I know are my problems.
              These sorry arguments cropped up because of your ill considered, and some what angry reaction for the comment I made about Ms. Harini Amarasuriya. She as an NMP carries on both her shoulders the unique duty and responsibility as a Legislator that without prejudice that there is equality in the administration of laws of the land is firmly established. Since my case is of universal proportion I expected her to take it on as her personal duty and responsibility to put it to the Minister of Justice in parliament as a matter of great public concern. I provided her with all the details she needs to know. They clearly and simply explain how a coterie of crooked officials at the top of the judicial hierarchy hijacked the courts of law. Her whole attitude towards this grave issue is hopeless. She has made herself unqualified for the job.

        • 0
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          This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

          For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 2
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    Debate and discussion are part of a lively community but it should not escalate into disunity. History and the background apart the message of His Grace is clear, namely, there is no problem in his being the titular metropolitan but it is not in keeping with times for him to be a part of the process in appointing / selecting / electing any of the Anglican Bishops in Sri Lanka. The rules applicable can be changed. In British-Ceylon times, the territory took instructions from London and not from the British Viceroy in India. Hence the separate identity of now Sri Lanka and then Ceylon, both British and Independent is unambiguous.

    • 4
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      I knew that my initial comment wouldn’t be liked; we’ve got so racist, and loathe India!
      .
      What were our British Headmasters and Bishops like?
      .
      I hope that Archbishop Welby can find the time to read through Dr Rollo Lenden Hayman’s Prize-giving Report – his last. Minute details carefully observed. The last British (Scottish, he was) Bishop’s Speech is also there but is less remarkable.
      .
      http://www.stcg62group.org/PDF/3_Prize_Giving_1962.pdf
      .
      I was there, and remember bits of it, but didn’t realise that he was so disappointed with us, as compared with earlier students. Minute details so vividly observed. RatnaRajanHoole arrived in time to be taught a few months of Physics by Dr Hayman, but that was the following year. Rajan, a Jaffna Tamil, has become a remarkable chronicler of our Wars, and will surely be considered a major Historian in centuries to come, but I suggest that the Archbishop contents himself with this thirteen-minute Youtube:
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2bCXoD-NEY
      .
      Professor RatnaJEEVAN Hoole who gave us the first report of the Elections is his suddenly “well-known” younger brother.
      .
      I’m deliberately cutting down the information load. Where’s the time for reading?

      • 2
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        Why should Britain help? No, I mean the Sri Lankan Anglican church in all of its riches. It can build forest overpasses in lieu of taxation, and in direct connection to the forests they destroyed to build their church. Its wealth is rolled in investments in expensive private schools and elitist wealth of those who have a portal into the generational and historical wealth of the colonies.

  • 3
    3

    Church of England in all of its riches, must now do something noble in for the Motherland. As British colonists destroyed our land for tea and rubber plantations making the British crown and Anglican church very rich indeed, it’s time they gave back what is due to our Land-of-Birth.
    *
    I would thus suggest helping GoSL out with a few overpasses over our forest reserves. Our people were driven out of their lands by the British and have many have no place to go other than into the UNESCO forest reserves. Make it possible for these people to live in the forest areas and protect the forests in a post-modernistic way. Christ said, “Suffer the children to come unto me.” He meant forest animals as well.

    • 1
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      Yes, dear RTF,
      .
      The story of our forests is terrible, but is it realistic to expect Britain to help?
      .
      There is a terrible problem of “World Human Overpopulation.” I’m in the thick of the political chaos here. I know that your concerns are sincere, but you’ve been in Pennsylvania for decades now. After 72 years, can we throw it back at the Colonial Power? What are we doing to our own people, especially those who speak the “other” language?
      .
      Two categories of Brits came here. These Archbishops are decent people – too decent! Remember dear Rowan Williams’ call for Sharia Law in Britain? So many of our own people are in the West as economic migrants. That includes you – but not the descendants of the Afro-American slaves. I listened to the Trump vs Biden debate yesterday.
      .
      As for looking after Nature, what hypocrisy from the government? Do you remember Rajan Hoole sincerely saying that he and animals are equal? But even he doesn’t get that unrealistic at a public level.
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-long-overdue-animal-welfare-bill/
      .
      BTW, Rajan has his lighter side. He’s re-reading P.G. Wodehouse. Have you encountered Lord Emsworth and the “Empress of Blandings”?

      • 4
        1

        Why should Britain help? No, I mean the Sri Lankan Anglican church in all of its riches. It can build forest overpasses in lieu of taxation, and in direct connection to the forests they destroyed to build their church. Its wealth is rolled in investments in expensive private schools and elitist wealth of those who have a portal into the generational and historical wealth of the colonies.

        • 3
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          Also there’s plenty of Lankan Colonial wealth in the expensive real-estate next to the BMICH. Sell that, and there will be plenty of money for over 10 forest overpasses.

        • 1
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          Dear RTF,
          .
          I grant you sincerity in all that you say. And you are a real person.
          .
          https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-american-midterm-elections-vis-a-vis-the-sri-lankan-constitution/
          .
          That said, I’m afraid that the improvements that you suggest will turn our game parks into zoos. Vegans don’t visit zoos, do they?
          .
          It is desirable that we stop interfering with Nature. But that isn’t possible, is it? Next best solution: designate areas where “Nature” and all that belong to her are left severely alone. Humans allowed to intrude only in strictly regulated ways.
          .
          Of course, the absolutely committed experts (not guys like us) must be allowed a say.
          .
          The problem with the Anglican Church is that they show that they have no money, and fleece some impoverished parishioners, but some clergy have ostentatious life-styles.
          .
          On the other hand, comparing incomes in different countries has to be a complex exercise.

          • 1
            0

            Not overpasses for tourists, but overpasses for Lankan people who have nowhere else to live, and are encroaching valuable forest reserves because their lands were taken by British tea and rubber plantations. Since they are building roads into the forests, and thus destroying them, overpasses are a way to keep the forest intact. Only the local forest residents will be allowed on the overpasses.
            *
            Of course it is best if no overpasses or roads are built at all. Better it is, that the Church of England builds flats outside the forests for the Lankans displaced and suffering for generations, after the British chased hem off their lands. CoE should also create jobs for these displaced.

            • 0
              1

              The income level of the Lankan Anglican community is comparable to upper middle-classes of Western lands in assets and generational wealth…..yearly income being irrelevant to their standing in the community and general day-to-day existence.

            • 1
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              Dear RTF,
              .
              I’m glad that you recognise the need for humans to trim the demands that they make of Nature. I wish, also, that we could reverse this trend of contrasting “them” and “us”.
              .
              I also feel that you’re generalising too much; not all individuals who are classified as Anglicans are wealthy. Isn’t it clear that the complaint of most of us is that some exploit, and that there’s little accountability?

  • 4
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    For future reference, it would be good to provide a link to the other current article on this subject:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/archbishop-of-canterbury-announces-new-bishop-of-colombo/
    .
    There is a harsh new comment that has come in from a Tamil man in Jaffna.
    .
    Also, it may be important for Archbishop Welby to understand that at the time of the Vietnam War, there was considerable religious tension in “Ceylon” as well. There was a “Christian” coup attempt in 1962, dealt with in this current article and many comments:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/swrd-bandaranaike-victim-of-sordid-politics-unmitigated-avarice/comment-page-1/?unapproved=2361984&moderation-hash=7d301abf9c8c5d27d769a089b90c109c#comment-2361984
    .
    Bandaranaike was from an Anglican family belonging to the “Farmer Caste” – Goigama – which is the majority Sinhalese caste. Yes, caste counts even among Christians in Sri Lanka. Their numbers have dwindled now.
    .
    Moratuwa, quite close to the elite Mt Lavina school (where Dushantha studied), is the centre of “Fisher caste Anglicanism”. These things are rarely mentioned. The Anglican Church now has only about 24,000 adherents (how can we have three Diocese?) mainly affluent Fisher Caste Sinhalese and “Ceylon Tamils”. Efforts are being made to convert Hill Country Tamils who came in, from India, after about 1825 to work on Estates.
    .
    There, I’ve told you what is considered taboo!

    .

    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/archbishop-of-canterbury-announces-new-bishop-of-colombo/
    .

    • 10
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      It is my impression that the Upcountry Anglican Tamils are more numerous than CeylonTamil Anglicans. Thanks to the Thomian schools they speak better English and get better jobs. I am happy for them. Until English in Jaffna is revived, we Jaffna Tamil will move only in direction — downwards!

      • 1
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        Dear Jaffna Man,
        .
        Like all impressions, what you say needs fine-tuning.
        .
        I think that the Anglican Church is making efforts to convert Tamil Labour since they are conscious of the appallingly low numbers. I don’t know whether Archbishop Welby has been provided with “honest figures”. I think that the 24,000 I have given is correct, but I’m no authority.
        .
        Pentecostalism-like groups are making progress – strongly resented by Buddhists. Both Roman Catholics and Anglicans capitalise on that – condemning such groups. “Charismatic” is a word that I hear applied to Catholics and Protestants alike. I think it means a good deal of overt enthusiasm being on display. In this context, Archbishop Welby speaking in tongues confuses me. Where does Philosophy come in? Important for me.
        .
        There are no resident Quakers in Sri Lanka, but I’ve been to about fifty of their meetings by keeping a keen eye open for them. I like them. Competition and comparison with other groups don’t trouble them. As a teen-ager, I got enthusiastic about Tolstoy’s Christianity. I was a bit surprised to find Archbishop Welby praying for the Armed Forces in a now fully-fledged military state.

  • 1
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    Jaffna Man,
    .
    Your comment is already two days old, but let me sleep on the other aspect of the issue raised by you.
    .
    What I have to say about Tamil-medium schooling and the S. Thomas’ schools here will be much less tentative. In fact, what I wrote about the latter as recently as March 2020 might as well be given you right now.
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/challenging-three-cheating-thomian-pharisees-and-not-doing-it-from-behind/
    .
    And as for “English” that’s the language that I’ve been teaching all my adult life – but not any more. It now seems to be felt that I don’t even know English.

    • 4
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      Dear Sinhala Man,

      Please take good care of you. Dont travel to Maharagama area. You please stay in B wela until COVID cases are settled to some extent. The govt would not report the truths about ground realities of the COVID. They would and could twist anything and everything for their political gains.

      There are news in EUROPE that RULING GOVT in SL would only focus on their kind of subjective statistics being spread in the country. If new rapidly increasing numbers are the case, the govt should take the responsiblity to have neglected the danger of the COVID 19.

      • 0
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        Dear LM,
        .
        Thanks to oc, Stanley and you
        ,
        .
        My priority has to be about the serious need our “less-advantaged folks” have for the English that is needed for utilitarian purposes.
        .
        However, just enjoy this satirical piece about the COVID-19 – worthy of Jonathan Swift himself.
        .

        https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/rex-huppke/ct-trump-covid-coronavirus-motorcade-walter-reed-doctor-huppke-20201005-mjwdujigsjel3a35iz2fn75gr4-story.html
        .

        The United States has had the worst experience (followed by Boris Johnson’s England?). We must be glad that it’s been contained within our Island, although we are acutely conscious of how much our unregarded “migrant workers” in West Asia (who keep our Economy running) are suffering – repeortedly lots of deaths among them.
        .
        While we can be quite sincere in congratulating Gota on his success in containing COVID, we can’t help but note many character traits that he shares with Trump.
        .
        Let me hope that the Archbishop and “Hancho” also enjoy it. Good satire induces laughter, but also promotes constructive reflection.

  • 0
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    Dear TC,

    You should stop persons like Sinhala_Man alias Stupid_Man from insulting the intelligence of your readers with his ill conceived, careless, mischievous, irresponsible, comments which are self centered to satisfy his ego but nevertheless cause unnecessary agony and conflict within your readership. The Court Documents stamped as certified photocopies he refers to belong to my nemesis which I handed to the EQD to get an authoritative confirmation that they are indeed fakes. He asked me for the originals. The Gordian knot is they do not exist leading me to no where. The main crux of this case is it uniquely turned out to be a clear picture ultra

    • 0
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      This got left out from the above test: The main crux of this case is it uniquely turned out to be a clear picture of the ultra sound scan of the cancerous tumor of corruption of Himalayan proportion grown inside the heart of the Judiciary of Srilanka, strangulating and smothering out the concept of justice in totality. There is an all powerful Mafia behind all of this.

    • 6
      0

      Hancho,
      “Dear TC,
      You should stop persons like Sinhala_Man alias Stupid_Man from insulting….”
      Hancho dear, the website is CT. The Times of Ceylon (TC) went belly-up long ago, and its web had only spiders in it.

  • 7
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    Sinhala_Man, for me you have always been Upright_ and_ Noble_Man. The country needs all the Sinhala_Men it can find. Very few I fear.

  • 0
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    Dear Jaffna Man,
    .
    That the lot of Up-Country Tamils has improved
    since the time I began work for the State in 1968. By January 1971, I had been trained as a teacher of Second Language English, and I began work in Kandegedera M.M.V., a school in which there were “privileged” Sinhalese Medium children, and some Tamil children who were allowed neither to go their way, nor to participate in any meaningful educational activities. It was apartheid, but also remember that there were complications brought on by the first JVP insurrection of April 1971.
    .
    I may not have time to say all that I want to, but I wasn’t going to be a guy who faithfully participated in the oppression of the guys who were labelled as “stateless”. Compared with that, we’ve come a long way, but there’s much that has still to be done.
    .
    Subjects like sociology have to be applied so as to ensure that every child born into our society ends up as a rounded and contented human being. I think that I can say sincerely that I have striven for that all my life, but now that life must begin to ebb away.
    .
    Much to be said about S. Thomas’.

  • 0
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    Jaffna Man

    S. Thomas’ PART ONE
    .
    Thanks for your interest, and the “likes” that indicated that we still have many human beings who care.
    .
    There is a huge difference between the two S. Thomas’ Schools in the Western Province, and the two in Uva, with which I have been intimately been connected, almost all my life.
    .
    I picked up the threads of my Higher Studies around 1978, initially travelling to Aquinas College for General Arts Qualifying work, and thereafter completing a Special Degree in English, on study leave in the University of Peradeniya. That was completed in 1985, and I was a lecturer (Temporary, Assistant, and all that it is true) in 1986. What could have been expected from me was now totally different, but please see what I have said before about how teachers are treated in these “Branch Schools”.
    .
    I will try to deal with all that. I’m now typing off-line. Quite often, the CT servers cut me off even after I have pasted my comments on to the box. That’s all right. There have to be ground rules!

  • 0
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    S. Thomas’ PART TWO
    .
    It will be obvious
    to you that there wasn’t always such a contrast between these schools; these two schools also were also “elite Public Schools” of the British sort when the Hooles (the Late Charles Ratnamuthan Hoole was at Gurutalawa for a year – but the “notorious” Ratnajeevan was never here – and consequently knows no Sinhalese!).
    .
    I know that “elite” is not necessarily a complimentary term, but let me try to be honest. I think that I’d better give you some idea of the structure of S. Thomas’ and how it has changed over the years. To most it was an imperceptible change – but not to me! It looks as though I’m condemned to be some sort of male Cassandra (remember the fall of Troy – the portrayals by both Homer in Greek, and Virgil in Latin – reading all that in translation was some of my University work, but if you ask the Hooles, it was part of the work that was done in schools in our time). I can see clearly, I warn, but will anybody act on it.
    .
    I’m conscious of writing all this partly for Archbishop Welby.

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    S. Thomas’ PART TWO
    .
    S. Thomas’ is part of the National Educational System of Sri Lanka.
    Some people wish it were not so, and blind themselves the truth. This will show you:
    .
    https://www.lawnet.gov.lk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/009-SLLR-SLLR-2000-V-1-EKSITH-FERNANDO-v.-MANAWADU-AND-OTHERS-ST.-THOMAS-COLLEGE-CASES.pdf
    .
    This is a famous case, with the long but readable judgement written in the year 2,000. It is available on many sites, and some of the stuff that I have already given will contain a link to this judgement, but it has now become something for which you have to pay. This is free; I’ve just checked it.
    .
    There are certain regulations pertaining to the appointment of Heads of these schools. Two (inadequate!) conditions only are imposed. An appointee has to be a University Graduate, and he has to have ten years of teaching experience. Department officials usually stand in awe of these schools, and they stretch the rules to the maximum to oblige these people of influence.
    .
    All this would not have transpired had I been recruited to head the flagship school in Mt Lavina in 1990. Yes. You have read that correctly!

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    S. Thomas’ PART THREE
    .
    I hope that most readers realise that I don’t talk loosely, and I don’t distort. The situation in 1990 was desperate – it may have improved for Mt Lavina (and even Colpetty – where Fr Dushantha may be in the process of handing over now). I have sent the customary text message of congratulations; I even put something on his Facebook; however, I have desisted from discussions on the phone.)
    .
    Some time after the farcical election that I have already linked you to, I had a relaxed 65-minute chat with Dushantha.
    .
    Repeating link:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/challenging-three-cheating-thomian-pharisees-and-not-doing-it-from-behind/
    .
    The chat was unhurried, long pauses on both sides, as we thought the situation out. But it was before the Bishop stakes hotted up. After the elections, I have had two longish chats with Rev. Marc Billimoria, whom I know better than Dushantha. It sounds as though Archbishop Welby has had chats with many to understand what’s going on, but not necessarily to by-pass the clear wish of the Anglican Church – of which I may not be the most devout and ardent member.
    .
    Have I not damned myself? Typical of me!

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    S. Thomas’ PART FOUR
    .
    That interview for Mt Lavinia,
    some of you may have your doubts about! The late Warden Neville de Alwis had coached me for the interview. Ask Rajan Asirwatham. The Archbishop probably met in August last year, and possibly zoom-conferenced with last month. He was on the Board. So was Gerald de Alwis, elder brother of Neville, and still with us.
    .
    So was the current Minister of Education, Emeritus Professor G.L. Peiris, the most brilliant scholar we ever produced, and a Member of the Board of Governors for more than two decades. I don’t, however, agree with his current politics.
    .
    The Bishop was the saintliest man we ever had: Rt Rev. Jabez Gnanapragasam. He asked only if I was a baptised and confirmed Anglican. Responding in the affirmative was easy. William Thomas Keble, founder of the schools in Bandarawela and Colpetty was my god-father. I also affirmed my respect for the Anglican ethos of S. Thomas’ but I voiced my reservations, which I said would remain unexplicated to the school.
    .
    The intention was to appoint me Sub-Warden for a year, then have me succeeding Neville who wanted very much to retire. I was not appointed. Nobody was appointed for five years.

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    S. Thomas’ PART FOUR
    .
    Jaffna Man, I’m sorry.
    I’ve got carried away by those details. Must get back to English.
    .
    One Board Member had not been happy with a semi-believer! He kept me out of S. Thomas’ for twenty-five years. But it all changed on Sinhala New Year’s Day, 2012. He suddenly emailed me that I was an enigma, but may God bless me. I responded in like fashion, and we are now good friends. Two years ago he asked if I could ever forgive him, since it is true that my career, “not taken at the flood” has been “bound in shallows and in miseries”. “Done, long ago”, as soon as I sensed his sincerity, I said. He has been very sick for some time, but he has recovered, and is driving around in Colombo. However, we all know that we must go – we know not whither!
    .
    What he added may also true; had I been in charge of one of the Uva Schools, the English would have been better – but that is far from certain. Both Bandarawela and Gurutalawa have drifted rudderless for too long. Why?

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    S. Thomas’ PART FIVE
    .
    There quite simply wasn’t any planning.
    I insisted on having a quiet private chat with Bishop Jabez some time after the interview. It was in the Bandarawela vicarage, when he had come up for a confirmation service.
    .
    The Bishop and I agreed on most things, but he said that he was going to retire soon and he didn’t want to impose his will on his successor. As for the other schools, he said that he was aware of “the empire-building ambitions of the Headmasters” – his words.
    .
    The one exception had been the late Bala Gunasekeram, and that was how I had been interviewed for Mt Lavinia. Bala had been a lecturer in Engineering in Peradeniya, and had heard something of me. He was well-known in the University as a strong Christian, but my main concerns were different. So, we had a long meeting, at his request in August 1989. At the end of three hours, he said that the work in Gurutalawa was too dangerous for a man like me who had young children.

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    S. Thomas’ PART SIX
    .
    In September 1989, Mr Bala Gunasekeram had handed over my papers to the Board, after I had got back to Oman. On the 20th of October 1989, he and his wife were shot dead in the early hours of the morning in the Headmaster’s bungalow.
    .
    This lack of Planning
    .
    If you were to look at what Dr Hayman said in the second part of his last Prize-giving Speech, you will realise that despite the inchoate state of education at the time, and the language changes, there was clear thinking. Each of the four Thomian schools had a certain purpose. There was a pattern to our progress. It was the business of the Board of Governors to co-ordinate the functions of the schools. They failed to do this.
    .
    In our case, we began in a school, in Bandarawela, which catered to the needs of the youngest children, and we left the school aged about eleven. Our numbers were about 350. Gurutalwas had even fewer – please see what Dr Hayman has said about numbers in his Prize-giving Speech. I can see that I cannot complete this.

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      Dear “Jaffna Man”,
      .
      I fear that I have been attempting to do too much, too quickly. All that bold lettering running out of control may be an indication of it.
      .
      The end result of all this has been that we have had a good man selected to be Bishop. Why not wait until he sets about the work that is going to be entrusted to him?
      .
      I think that I need more time to work on some of the things that I was trying to say. However, I feel that I have brought some important issues to your notice.
      .
      I fear that I have raised too many issues for one person to study, but it wouldbe nice to think that Bishop Welby will get some of these issues looked into by his staff.
      .
      We, on our part must accept responsibility for what we want our country to be.

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