26 October, 2021

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‘Pastors’: Response To The Archbishop Of Colombo

By Rev Rohan De S Ekanyake

Rev Dr Rohan De S Ekanayake

We, the National Christian Fellowship of Sri Lanka, representing the indigenous Churches in Sri Lanka do observe with deep regret the contents of the press release made by His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith relating to ‘Pastors’ as it contains factually incorrect, misleading inaccuracies. Especially at a time where certain religious leaders are calling upon their adherents to violently attack Christians, statements such as the Archbishop’s, only serve the purpose of adding fuel to the fire.

His Eminence has raised six issues in his media release and we wish to address each one of them here.

1. Quote: “those who call themselves ‘pastors’ have disturbed and confused the nation through their organized activities carried out aiming the country’s elite, veteran artists, sportsmen and businessmen.” Unquote.  It does not directly state what the so called ‘activities’ of these ‘pastors’ are. However it must be highlighted that the named elite, veteran artists, sportsmen and businessmen are a very learned and intelligent groups of our Society. They have the right to exercise their freedom of choice in making decisions as do any Sri Lankan citizen as per the constitution. 

2. In his statement the Cardinal states that there is absolutely no connection between the Roman Catholic Church and the ‘pastors’ by pointing out to a history of 2000 years as proof to the fact. This statement is completely misleading and is false. Jesus often likened His relationship with His disciples to a shepherd and sheep relationship. By being born again His true disciples become symbolically known as His ‘sheep’ (John 3: 3,8 and 10:27-28).  St. Paul states that there are five positions or titles to protect these ‘sheep’. They are the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. Incidentally the Holy Scripture refers to his followers as ‘people of the way’ (Acts 9:1-2) and ‘Christian’ (Acts 11:26) and the main officers of the Church ‘the five-fold ministries’ which were mentioned above. All other denomination names and titles were introduced much later. 

Although Christians sacrificed their lives for the faith in the early centuries, it is correct to say that Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in 312 A.D. ended the persecution that prevailed at the time.

3. Just as when a state patronizes any religion, the number of devotees’ increases in favor of that religion, in view of the privileges they would benefit from the State. Christianity began to decline spiritually with extra-biblical teachings brought into the Church with conversions taking place without a true regeneration by faith. The church entered a dark age. 

4. In 1054 the Christian community split as the Greek Orthodox Church, and again in 1517 the Church split into Protestant Christianity and Roman Catholism, when Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, recognized that the Catholic Church had largely deviated from the true biblical principles and teaching. Since then, these ‘winds of reformation’ have permeated the Christian church in various ways working from within to bring human beings to reality. This Protestant Christian denomination accepts the 66 books of the Bible as the inspired infallible Word of God whilst also reflecting – not only by words but also through experience – on the importance of obeying it in its original form.

5. Despite how corrupted church history was, the Lord constantly preserved a remnant of the born-again believers and He brought about great revival around the world beginning with the 20th century Pentecostal revival.  Roman Catholicism which was predominant in Latin America dropped from 90% to 69% during 1960-2014 period. In Argentina the Catholic community has shrunk from 77% to 63% between the time period of 2008-2019. Africa and Asia alike have seen great increase of ‘born-again’ protestant Christians. It is true that these ‘winds’ blew into Sri Lanka in the 1970s and 1980s decade. There is no doubt that even our rural communities were more attracted to these beliefs than to those coming from the influence of the colonial era or Latin-inspired practices as they followed belief systems in accordance to the native language and culture.   

6. Although majority of Jesus’ early disciples were fishermen and lacked education, they were full of His power at Pentecost. However, we acknowledge that although those who are ordained as ‘pastors’ are educated in reputable Bible schools and that there may be questions about the education and quality of a minority. We are compelled to accept it as a fact by the number of imprisoned monks, that there is such a minority in every religion.

7. We would like to state very clearly that we deplore some of the events which are not in line with the biblical teaching in some traditional churches. In his third point, the Cardinal mentions financial gains and impropriation of funds. We accept the scriptures he quotes literally and should be adhered by all. However, of the wealthiest states in the world, the Vatican is one in the forefront. One of the richest organizations in the world is the Roman Catholic Church. Here, we quote from the internet the statements and links made by His Holiness Pope Francis and some others about the corruption in the Roman Catholic Church:

* “DW Made for minds- NEWS-Pope Francis: ‘There is corruption in the Vatican’”

* “INTERESTING TIMES -FEB. 22, 2019 -The Corruption of the Vatican’s Gay Elite Has Been Exposed – By Andrew Sullivan

* “The Vatican’s new corruption scandal-By JD Flynn-October 23, 2019 | Two weeks later, the longtime head of Pope Francis’ security service resigned after leaked reports of alleged financial wrongdoing in the Vatican”.

* “The unbearable ugliness of the Catholic Church-Damon Linker-August 29, 2018. The core of the church’s problem is not personal immorality, or institutional corruption, or hypocrisy. The core of the problem is ugliness”.

* “By secular standards, the Catholic Church is a corrupt organization:- Neil Macdonald · CBC News · Posted: Aug 26, 2018 –More than 1,000 children abused by Pennsylvania priests, report says‘We showed no care for the little ones’: Pope’s letter vows to end sex abuse, cover ups”.

However, it is no secret that the majority of ‘pastors’ are economically weak and are not guilty of such “child abuse, misappropriation of funds homosexual abuse etc.”.

8. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” We believe it is a physical, mental and spiritual relief. He also said  “Give to others, and it will be given to you….And with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again”. Therefore, we see it as the responsibility of every Christian to provide relief through prayer to the afflicted Sri Lankans.

9. This new birth or ‘born -again’ in Christianity is a spiritual experience. To enter into that experience, one must use his free will to repent of sin and live a righteous life. We assuredly declare that the ‘pastors’ do not evangelize a ‘forced conversion’ that the Cardinal refers to under the 5th point; a forced conversion such as that of a ‘sword in one hand and the Bible in the other’ as in the Portuguese era. The Bible says that we should respect one another. Therefore it is our belief to live in peace as much as possible with everyone, respecting people of all religions, and races.

10. While the Roman Catholic Church is the richest organization in the world, In Sri Lanka too it is the wealthiest denomination possessing property and resources obtained during the time of the Portuguese era. The majority of ‘pastors’ are those who are dedicated to a simple life of non-violence and who have directed their lives to the good path through the new birth.  It is a pity to hear about child abuse and homosexuality and money laundering taking place within the Roman Catholic Church as reported in the above mentioned online articles. It would be more appropriate to ask the political leadership to find out whether such a situation exists in Sri Lanka as well. 

11.  According to the last Government Census the Protestant population was 1.4%. i.e: 290,000 approximately. The so called ‘pastors’ are approximately shepherds to 50% of this number. i.e 145,000. It remains to the rational mind to evaluate the threat of 145,000 people who are committed to non-violence against a 21,000,000 people.

12. Jesus’ statement was that religious co-existence should be based on Biblical truth. “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)” “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other” (Matthew 24:9-10) . 

The Cardinal’s statement is partial fulfillment of the prophecy of the last days of the world – betrayal of the brethren.

*Rev Rohan De S Ekanyake – General Secretary-National Christian Fellowship of Sri Lanka

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Latest comments

  • 26
    5

    Thanks Rev doctor.. This is the guy who once told there is no rights violations in Lanka. Ranjith is more of a politician than cardinal.

    • 18
      1

      Rev. Rohan says:
      “In Sri Lanka too it is the wealthiest denomination possessing property and resources obtained during the time of the Portuguese era. “
      Not really. Rev. Rohan should know that whatever property the church got from the Portuguese was taken away by the Dutch. I don’t think the RC properties are anywhere near the value of Anglican holdings from British times, which include vast acres in Kollupitiya and Cinnamon Gardens.
      Still, Malcolm Ranjith is being dishonest when he complains of conversion of prominent people by evangelicals. These people don’t need money, so MR should be investigating why even some Catholics leave the Church. Is it because of sanctimonious hypocrites at the top?
      BTW, I don’t think MR’s comments were directed at Protestant churches such as Rev.Rohan’s. The ones he was talking about are the ones who don’t call themselves “Rev”, or wear robes. But even they have as much right to go about their business as MR.

      • 7
        4

        OC
        I agree very much. But some of the Cardinal’s targets are members of the “National Christian Fellowship”
        *
        Also much money is pumped into the country by Charismatic Christian organizations for purpose of conversion (a bigger menace to the Catholic Church in Latin America than here or in India).
        The source of funding is a bottomless well, and the work supplements the broader US imperialist mission of ‘Regime Change’ in the name of democracy.

    • 0
      1

      oc,
      .
      There can be no doubt that Anglicans are wealthier per capita – both as individuals, but also as regards to the wealth owned by the institution.
      .
      However, Anglicans number only about 25,000 (they try, sometimes, to claim more), whereas Catholics number well over a million. I’ve seen 1.2 million in Wikipedia.
      .
      It is also true, worldwide, that Catholics tend to practise their religions, but Protestants don’t. In many senses it is true that Ranjith (Archbishop, remember) has much more power than the Anglican Bishop of Colombo. Kurunegala has even less. Let me highlight the shocking abuse of power by the Church in relation to the schools.
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/challenging-three-cheating-thomian-pharisees-and-not-doing-it-from-behind/
      .
      My hobby horse – true. But it is disappointing that few members of the public joined in with comments; there should have been widespread agitation.
      .
      BTW, word has come through to me that the decent and non-controversial Principal of Bishop’s College has handed in her resignation.

      • 3
        0

        SM,
        Don’t you find it interesting that the Principal of TCK , a premier Anglican school , is a Catholic priest? So, there is some cooperation, rampaging Cardinals notwithstanding.

        • 0
          0

          Dear oc,
          .
          Yes, that came as a surprise to me, but I’ve not followed it up.
          .
          Significant is the fact that he’s an Old Boy of Trinity. Interesting there is the fact that those schools that are in demand aren’t keen on admitting Catholics.
          .
          The two Uva S. Thomas’ schools are only too happy to admit Catholics.
          .
          On the positive side, the “strongest” Anglican schools, STC, Mt Lavina; Trinity; Ladies; Bishop’s, etc have more than enough applicants, but having taken in all Anglican applicants, they then admit the children of Past Pupils’ Association, irrespective of whether they are Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim. And once in, they have full opportunities to rise to positions of eminence within the school.
          .
          But then there is the snobbery! Ultimately, individual weaknesses can’t be overcome.
          .
          Pretty irrelevant this!

  • 11
    1

    As if we do not have enough home and home matches. Buddhist monks against Buddhist monks, Muslim priests and political parties against Muslim priests and political parties. Tamil politicians against Tamil politicians. Sinhala Buddhist politicians against Sinhala Buddhist politicians and now this new Catholics vs Christians. With all these home and home fights going on who is gaining ground ..its the RACISTS.

    When will we going to open our minds and hearts and unite and fight the RACISTS?

    • 3
      1

      Buddhist 1,
      “When are we going to open our minds and hearts and unite and fight the RACISTS?”
      You said it.

  • 3
    1

    Sorry there is a typo in my earlier message… it should read… when are we going to… and not when we will going to..

  • 3
    6

    Oh no! These so called learned and intelligent groups very often can’t see beyond their learnedness and intelligence. This is especially true of Sri Lankans, out of all the races in the world.
    $
    Indeed, they feel that they are so blessed and privileged, that they take the brains and money and place it in institutions that will roll their begotten wealth. Capitalism glorified.
    $
    If this Elite put their wealth in the Catholic church that is saturated with long history of capitalism, it will make no gains. Historically, the Catholic capitalism actually helped the masses as its base is grounded in Socialism of Christ. Once one put money in the Catholic church, one lost it, for it went towards the masses. The only returns one ever got was a probably entry into heaven. And the Elites wealth will make no gains if they try it to put it in Buddhism as Buddhism does not have a long history of Capitalism, and was always mostly about Socialism and Communism.

    • 3
      6

      $
      So our newly revered Lankan Elites roll their wealth instead (with the delusion of goodness), in the e.g. Evangelistic groups. However, as Capitalism is saturated in all corners of the globe (religion included), this newly-fangled religious socialized capitalism will not cut it in any true givings to the wider community, but create an ever-wealthier Elite that truly feel they are bless-ed in all of their riches that is concentrated at the top.
      $
      The Bible was never infallible, and Christ left it to the generations to evolve his faith. This is what the Catholic Church is about.

      • 5
        0

        “…Christ left it to the generations to evolve his faith. This is what the Catholic Church is about.”
        *
        Evolution has not always led to the best result.

        • 3
          2

          Fixedness is not what Christ wanted. He also never wrote the Bible, but left it to his apostles to interpret his message.

        • 5
          2

          Yes and to further extend that, evolution was never a guiding principle in Christianity and was rejected from the inception with creation theory. So a basic contradiction of ideas when an all powerful static God and natural Evolution (whether of ideas or organic matter) are embraced together.

          • 0
            0

            No, ideas are quite different from organic matter. And Christ’s message was an evolution of the old testament. (Recent Vatican edits do suggest natural organic evolution with the Static God).

            • 0
              2

              .edicts, also.

    • 4
      3

      Ramona,
      “And the Elites wealth will make no gains if they try it to put it in Buddhism as Buddhism does not have a long history of Capitalism, and was always mostly about Socialism and Communism.”
      What a philosopher you are! I suggest you should call your forthcoming book Das Buddhist Kapital.

      • 3
        3

        Buddhist Socialism is far, far away from the capitalist-socialist divide of the mad Europeans. Buddhist Socialism is a natural way of being for our naturally democratic land.
        (But old codger, you only seem to have the brains for sarcasm).

        • 4
          1

          ramona therese fernando you have no brains for anything. How do you survice in the west with such a dull mind?

          • 1
            1

            TFN,
            Please be kind to Ramona. She is so entertaining, unlike some others.

          • 0
            1

            TFN,
            Please be kind to Ramona. She is so entertaining, unlike some others..

  • 9
    3

    “We, the National Christian Fellowship of Sri Lanka, representing the indigenous Churches in Sri Lanka “

    The word indigenous is problematic. Christianity sprouted in the Middle-east and evolved in Europe, where it split into hundred’s of denominations. As Europeans rebelled against “Gods” representative on earth : The Pope and it frock attired Clergy. Afterwards it was spread by brute force in Asia by the Catholic nations of France ( Cambodia, Vietnam ) Spain ( Philippines ) and Portugal ( Ceylon, India ). Sri Lanka is nether the middle-east nor is it the west !. In the east the only indigenous worship are centered on Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.

    • 1
      2

      Westham,
      If Christianity is not indigenous, what about Buddhism? Or are you one of those who believe that the Buddha was born here?

  • 8
    4

    Freedom of religion is one’s own choice. But conversion is not considered as a freedom to choose the religion. These evangelists say that they don’t forcibly convert people. But what is it called when somebody knocks at our door one day and say that the god we worship is not true and invite to their place to perform some tricks and do a brainwash to change our mind. Mostly they target people who are in financial difficulties or mental traumas. A lot of people fall in this trap and get converted easily. They use their worship assembly and prayer meetings to brainwash people and hate other religions and I have witnessed this personally on several occasions. Usually these independent church pastors are criticized world wide for attacking others faith and I have witnessed this clearly during their worships and prayer meetings.

    The pastor has correctly pointed out the decline in numbers of Catholics and other religions, mainly because they don’t push conversions. And Vatican is not a private property of anybody and no Catholic priest holds ownership to any churches he serves. Catholic churches requests members to pay only Rs.100/- per family for a month for the church and never demand anybody to provide any percentage of their incomes. But for evangelical churches do it is vice versa.

    • 5
      2

      Dear Freddy.
      While agreeing with you fully, I would say that “religions of the West” all were very heavily dependent on forced ‘conversions’ by various means including financial support or some other material benefits (like the earlier colonists who gave jobs and recognition) to gather their numbers. Very few were by conviction. So for the various denominations to argue on conversions by various artifices, is forgetting first principles and past origins.

      • 1
        3

        Somehow it was different back then from now. Those days, when the Catholic church set up shop, Buddhism had not had its revival yet. Hindus just moved in with another god. There was a lot of going on, to and fro. People were Agnostic where the Catholic church was concerned. Once in a while there was a miracle and the faith became stronger. It was the Protestant church of England who gave jobs and position.
        +
        Now that Christianity is done, what is the use of further refining Christianity in Sri Lanka. I mean it is good that there is refinement so the Catholic church can observe ad evolve along with it. But this new refinement is monetary based for rich ones to convince themselves of their goodness and ensure their positions. Authorities who want to catch any miscreants will be shivering in fear when they hear the loud shouts of praises.

        • 2
          0

          It was the Protestant church of England who gave jobs and position.
          Yes they did but the Catholic Portuguese did the same. See the proliferation of names like De Silva Perera Fonseka Almeida Soysa (from Souza) Cooray (fromCorera) – they would not have done this change if not mainly, for material benefit

          • 1
            0

            No significance in quoting these names but for illustration only. Most likely I may have one of them. So no offence to anyone.

          • 1
            1

            They had Portuguese fathers. Hence the name and religious change.

            • 2
              0

              rtf
              “They had Portuguese fathers.”
              Are you suggesting that most of them were conceived in sin.

          • 1
            1

            M.V,
            True, many people took to Christianity because of economic advantages. In pre-Portuguese society, what you could do was restricted by your caste, even such matters as wearing an upper garment or painting your house. The Buddhist clergy contributed to this. Let’s not forget that the Portuguese did a lot of good things too. Maybe that’s why there are so many Portuguese names, and borrowed words in Sinhala 500 years later.

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