25 August, 2019

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We’ve Had Enough Of The Monks On Our Backs; The Catholic Clergy Should Not Add To The Ordeal – Response To Revd Dr PJ Fernando

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

“A good journalist should take no one for granted and should not be prepared to absolve anyone from possible wrongdoing on the presupposition that by virtue of position such a person can do no wrong. A journalist would invade areas that others may regard as being too sacred to touch.”

Why I haven’t Insulted

Revd Dr PJ Fernando (Revd. PJF), Archdiocese of Birmingham, has come to the aid of the besieged Most Eminent Cardinal of Sri Lanka, Malcolm Ranjith. Fair enough, since team members must fight for their leader. However, it surprises me to be charged by him for ‘insulting’ His Eminence. Insult is never in my armoury.

The source of such an allegation is a serious misconception of the role of a journalist. I must point out here that although Revd PJF refers to me as a ‘journalist,’ I am not a journalist but a columnist or opinion writer. However, I follow the fearless focus of a good journalist. A good journalist should take no one for granted and should not be prepared to absolve anyone from possible wrongdoing on the presupposition that by virtue of position he holds such a person can do no wrong. A journalist would invade areas that others may regard as being too sacred to touch. 

The reality of human behaviour tells us that every human has the potential to folly, to err and to act evil inasmuch as to do immense good.

Revd. PJF seems to think otherwise; hence his perception that I have insulted the Cardinal. I have acted according to that philosophy-not resorting to any insult while not treating the Cardinal as a touch-me-not.

It is significant  that  PJF is unable to illustrate his allegation by citing just one of my expressions that could be reckoned as being insulting. What has happened is that I have made factual statements and inferences with regard to the Cardinal’s recent judgment and conduct and if such facts do not put the Cardinal in a good light then I am not the offender; only a messenger.

I would like to add that I have in the process acted unwittingly as a whistleblower to the devout catholic following in our country who must steadfastly step in to prevent the same corrupt politicisation that is ruining Buddhism, from taking place within their fold. I am in serious business, Revd PJF.

Visiting the Fasting Monk

The occasion for this time’s critique of the Cardinal was the scene of his rushing to show solidarity to Revd Athuralye’s cause. That cause was a demand from government that the two Muslim governors and one Muslim minister be removed forthwith. There was no other issue as far as the monk was concerned. However, Revd PJF, along with the Archdiocese of Colombo, have deliberately tried to camouflage the cause of the monk by attributing nobler intentions. I have criticised the Archdiocese of Colombo for this  move in my article as an attempt at magician’s trickery. 

I do the same for Revd PJF, now. Just take a look at this: PJF states, “What the Cardinal was upholding was his nonviolent means seeking justice to yet another minority religious group in the country. Cardinal’s visit was an act of charity and determination. It was to strengthen the nonviolent resolve in the country to bring justice. It was to unite the country against violence but bring justice to all those who were killed.” Can anybody with any ethics in him  attribute any of these elements to the fasting model of Athuraliye? To be fair by the monk, he does not claim any such thing at all. The issues he raised were simply about the removal of the three Muslim leaders. What is the charity embedded in that?

As a matter of fact, it was unjust and uncharitable on the part of the monk to assume sans investigation that the three Muslim leaders had done serious wrong. Parliament was going to debate a no confidence motion against the minister Rishard Bathiudeen – anyway. The monk should have at least waited for that. I have no love for either of the  two governors who, I think, were bad appointments by the president. Hizbullah, in particular, needs careful examination. That is another matter since the fact here is that no enquiry had been demanded by the monk as a prerequisite.

What the monk was doing was to try and get the sunshine on him for a misplaced heroism. Athuraliye, the Cardinal should know, has a high ego and this act of fasting was a mere ego exercise. The Cardinal also should know by now that no monk who fasts unto death will take the risk of dying.

Context

As I had pointed out in my article, it is very important to appraise the socio-political context in which this fast took place. In the background, was a build up of Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinistic jingoism that could have gone haywire. The jailbird monk was associated closely with Athuraliye. That itself should have put off the Cardinal from soiling his soul by going to show solidarity to the fasting monk. The fasting monk was merely a link in a whole chain of potential backlash against all Muslims. I am surprised the Cardinal did not sense all this.

The jailbird monk had threatened the day before, that if the demands of Athuraliye aren’t met he will show “fireworks” all over the island. This implies a security threat to the government and people.

Against such a violent background why on earth did the Cardinal go? Why did he not realise that by lending his status it would help the racist build up?Why can’t Revd PJF see this contextual inappropriateness? He cannot see because his objective in writing was to defend at any cost and not to make an independent assessment of what I have stated.

Poor Response to Fast

The poor response to the fast in influential high quarters and among the public at large clearly confirms my position that this wasn’t an event that the Cardinal should have graced. It was all bad protocol. Mahinda Rajapaksa was, expectedly, there but that is politics. All chapters of Asgiriya and Malwatte openly criticised the event. In what was like a stab in the back, the jailbird monk also later came out rubbishing the move of Athuraliye. Gnanasara said what we have said, namely, that foolish acts like this only served to push the large majority of ordinary and law-abiding Muslims into the side of extremists. The other Mahanayakes of the rest of the Nikayas also criticised what looked like a quixotic adventure.

Maligawa  Desecrated

The premises of the fast, which is the sacred Maligawa, was desecrated right and left when mobs who gathered round the monk shouted filth and abuse at disagreeable VIPs who had the gall to come over to speak to the monk and try and prevent escalation. Athuraliye hadn’t the courtesy to obtain permission from the Mahanayakes to use the premises.

Hence, I ask Revd. PJF and all others defending the cardinal’s judgment, that “where do their justification stand?”

Political Statements by Cardinal

Matters could not have turned worse for the cardinal when the latter made a public political statement on site before the media. The cardinal stated that “a country belongs to the people and not to the ruling elite.” I have commented that this statement was, government impliedly, an attack on the current government. What is wrong is that the criticism isn’t valid at all of this government, whatever other deficiencies the government may have. This government has never shown a tendency to outlive its mandated ruling period. It has freely permitted protests to take place  without resort to Orwellian tactics of hit squads and white vans.

What means even more, the Cardinal who has shown his intention to intervene in national moments never uttered a word of protest when gruesome murders and disappearance took place under the watch of the Rajapakse government. In fact, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith had at the time shot into the limelight by making an astoundingly untruthful statement namely that “there is nothing called human rights.”

Can’t revd PJF see what can be obviously seen: there is something not quite right in the Cardinal.

“Sinhala-Buddhist Country”

Revd PJF reaches a ridiculous logical moment in his presentation when he makes a vain attempt to defend the Cardinal’s previous controversial statement that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala-Buddhist country. Says Revd PJF, “When the Cardinal said that Sri Lanka is a Sinhalese Buddhist Country, it does not mean that the others are denied of their rights and existence. It is a show of lack of understanding and learning to jump into a conclusion otherwise. When you say that Sri Lanka is a Sinhalese Buddhist Country it affirms the historical identity of the country, respects and regards the countries culture and history.”

Of course, the claim that the country is a “Sinhala-Buddhist country,” implies logically that Sinhala-Buddhists have primal  and host status and that others enjoy secondary status. You cannot get away from that implication. Revd PJF argues that it does not mean that others are “denied their rights.” True. But it does not require a PhD to arrive at the conclusion that these others’ rights take second place in a country that belongs primarily to the Sinhala Buddhists.

Minister Mangala Samaraweera was more sensible. The latter clarified that Sri Lanka is a country “where the majority are Sinhala-Buddhists.” That puts all ethnic and religious groups in equal territory. Sinhala-Buddhists being demographically a majority would, naturally, receive the greater part of national income. That isn’t due to any ethnic superiority but sheerly due to numbers.

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Latest comments

  • 10
    0

    Unfortunately many Buddhist monks have actively involved in party politics which the Lord Buddha never allowed.
    These monks are confused or intoxicated with wrong views.
    Monks should follow the disciplinary code rather emotions.
    They have to understand why they become or became monks.

    They have completely forgotten the main purpose of monkhood.

    Other priests also must deeply reflect upon their own duties and responsibilities as priests.

    Generally Catholic and other Christian priests do not involve in party politics as Buddhist monks have involved.

    Unfortunately His Eminent Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith have visited Rathana who was doing hunger strike.
    Rathana is not a Buddhist monk though he is attiring a yellow robe.

    Involving politics should be banned for Buddhist monks and other religious priests.

    • 7
      0

      Shyamon, I am glad you have replied Revd PJ Fernando, Archdiocese of Birmingham at some depth and in great style. His strictures on your writing could have been in better taste and sadly they display a blind loyalty or a slavish tendency towards his boss, which is not uncommon to all non-thinking followers of whatever faith. There are plenty of them among the yellow robed gentry here,with Gnanasara and his gang leading the pack. Not sure if Athureliye wishes to start up another cult, but we shall have to wait and see.

      Given all of above, I see PJF’s exersions as a desperate attempt at absolving the Cardinal from any wrongdoing by virtue of Rev Malcolm Ranjith being the Cardinal and therefore on the basis that he can do no wrong..

      The Cardinal’s soft spot for the Rajapakse clan is well known. He kept a powerful silence when horrendous murders and disappearance took place under the watch of the previous government. And yes, his astonishing statement that “there is nothing called human rights” still rankles among all right thinking people who value human life and human rights. That was a a low point among the Cardinal’s utterings to date. Therefore, just as much as we freely criticise any wrong doing by the yellow robed gentry when they dabble in public affairs, we reserve the right to exercise the same freedom to comment on others who cross the line. Regrettably, the Cardinal is not immune from blame and sensible people will not subscribe to the view that he can do no wrong by virtue of the position he holds in the church.

      To conclude, I have one question. If a christian or catholic priest began a fast on to death outside St. Paul’s cathedral in London in protest against a non white being appointed Mayor of England’s capital city, would the Archbishop of Canterbury come to his rescue kneeling by his side, or, would the Metropolitan Police be called up to clear the place of a public pest?

    • 0
      0

      Nothing eminent about this man to address him as His Eminent Cardinal…….. He is an utter disgrace to the Catholic faithful and the Catholic Church. Doesn’t seem to feel the pulse of the faithful and act accordingly. Shame on him!

  • 8
    0

    Cardinal should realize that silence is golden for him now. More he talks he will show his hidden colors soon. For Catholics those colors were quite clear but he is set to lose his recently acquired glamour in front of non Catholics.

    • 0
      0

      His colours were clear from day one. There is no recently acquired glamour. He is the cause of all these problems and now trying to play the role of the ‘saviour of the situation’. A man appointed as Cardinal by the Vatican on the recommendation of Mahinda Rajapakse. What more do you expect. Time the Catholic faithful awoke from their slumbers and took appropriate action against this man. Time the Vatican realizes that he is NO MAN OF GOD but satan in a cassock.

  • 2
    7

    Shyamon, the Cardinal is not besieged as you tried to portray. In fact his image has immensely enhanced especially among non Christians and mainly among Buddhists. Whatever gimmicks your ilk try, he cannot be isolated now.

    • 3
      0

      Helass

      Don’t you find it amusing that Cardinal also trying to hide behind general impunity clause evoking “Sinhala/Buddhism” …..?
      The cardinal’s first statement immediately after the bomb blast appeared as follows: called on Sri Lanka’s government to “mercilessly” punish those responsible “because only animals can behave like that”.

      • 0
        0

        The words he uttered were definitely unbecoming and not something expected from ‘a man of God’. In contrast the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Colombo was more compassionate towards the culprits saying that they should be punished according to the law of the land.

  • 1
    8

    “I follow the fearless focus of a good journalist”. My foot. Arse licking of RW is not defined as good journalism man.

    • 5
      0

      Helass

      “My foot. Arse licking of RW is not defined as good journalism man.”

      Don’t you realise you just stuck your foot in your A**e?

  • 2
    7

    I am reading nothing but the venom in the article of Mr Jayasinghe. This so called fearless representative of factual truths seem to me as having a secondary agenda in his attack of the Cardinal and that priest who exposed the absurdities in Mr Jayasinghe’s previous article of pure bias and non analytical truths. For you there seems to be nothing other than division in the foolish brain and seems to me as someone unable put forward a coherent argument other than exposing himself of his own ulterior motive of a personal agenda. What is wrong is Cardinal getting involved in politics if it is not for the sale of politics but for the sake of his flock and the national interests at large. Mr Jayasinghe, you do not see the world from the prism of modernity but rather from your pre conceived misconceptions. May it be the Cardinal or any other person in Sri Lanka, get involved for the common good. Use your brain and not your arse.

    HCS Perera (Barrister-at-law/ solicitor UK)

    • 7
      3

      HCS Perera
      For a Barrister -at-law you are talking through your backside. Wake up man. You and your boss mahinda with the help of imbeciles like the cardinal have done enough damage to the country. you are accusing Mr Jayasinghe is biased but it is you who is biased. Cardinal is supposed to be even handed and not support one group of politicians, especially a group which has caused unspeakable damage to the coexistence of the different communities in srilanka. You are advising Mr Jayasinghe to use his brain and not his arse. The advise should be made to you Of course you cannot use your brain as it is only a pea sized one but you are using your arse well to serve your masters. Keep at it , you are doing well.

    • 5
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      Mr Barrister-at-law,
      If you didn’t know, Human brain must. by definition, should be filled with pre-conceived misconceptions simply b’cos, despite having a larger brain, Humans, as just another animal evolved from chimps, are not born with factual concepts hardwired to the brain. The richness of knowledge depends solely on what is known as Baconian Idols (you can read about them in the internet) What I just described is given as Idol of the Tribe. Instincts associated with Tribal idol forces all thinking organisms to take sides on issues at stake- whether small or large. In fairly cut & dry issues like scientific theories, factuality of opinions can be easily judged whereas in social issues like the behavior of Cardinal or the Shyamon’s criticism, the factuality depends solely on the bias of the judge. However, in the case the Cardinal, decision of the Pope will have to be taken as The Truth but, for opinions of Shyamon, the factuality will be always contentious b’cos it depend on which side the critic is. But, if Shaymon has a proven record for being fair, then you will have hard time proving yourself!

      • 2
        4

        Mr DP ( I hope you will get some Diving Providence (DP) when you talk of the distinction between truths, facts and the reliance on the bias of a judge to conclude the distinction. (I suppose DP means ‘a judge’ to refer to an onlooker) . Are you not aware that words and actions can be factual yet untrue at the same time.; a person’s words may be technically correct but when the inward intent is not true then only fact-speaking can occur as opposed to truth speaking. The greatest distinction Mr DP in this is that when the motive behind the message is false then even accurate words can be false from their own foundations. This is exactly what it means and your words are empty rhetoric because they lack the wholeness of heart. (this is what I attribute to Mr J’s intentions)

        I feel pathetic in your observation that for you Mr J has proven to have a record of being fair and the same, you do not apply to cardinal. Do you reckon that Cardinal is a liar by your inference??? I probably think you better check your arse too. Just seek divine providence to understand what I have said in the first para.

        • 2
          0

          HCS Perera,
          The Cardinal is a liar. As pointed out below by True Christian, he denied that Christian churches were being attacked by Buddhists.

        • 6
          1

          Mr HCS Perera

          Are you REALLY practising as a Barrister & Solicitor in the UK?
          I won’t offend you by saying why I ask this, but I am a little concerned.

          • 0
            4

            Yes indeed I am not only a practising solicitor and a barrister but an attorney at law in Sri Lanka. Apart from all these temporal vocations will fearlessly represent what is true and just.

            • 6
              0

              Well….it’s your strange deploymenr of the English language that puzzles me.

              • 2
                0

                Manel,Manel!!
                Ssssh, Swabasha educated. Using English as the Kaduwa

              • 2
                0

                What on earth has “diving Providence” got to do with Cardinals? Does His Eminence go diving in Hikkaduwa?

            • 3
              0

              Perera

              Are you from the world of Walter Mitty?

          • 3
            0

            Manel Perera – What this bugger is practising is Bull & Shit and I don’t blame you for being concerned!

  • 1
    1

    Another traitor from Yahapalana clan posing as a columnist

    • 1
      0

      Simple Simon

      I just remembered this nursery rhyme. In honour of you I am presenting the rhyme here:

      Simple Simon met a pieman,
      Going to the fair;
      Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
      Let me taste your ware.
      Says the pieman to Simple Simon,
      Show me first your penny;
      Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
      Indeed I have not any.
      Simple Simon went a-fishing,
      For to catch a whale;
      All the water he had got,
      Was in his mother’s pail.
      Simple Simon went to look
      If plums grew on a thistle;
      He pricked his fingers very much,
      Which made poor Simon whistle.[1]
      He went for water in a sieve
      But soon it all fell through
      And now poor Simple Simon
      Bids you all adieu![2]

  • 2
    1

    All foreigners who left mother Lanka long ago are now interested in mother Lanka well being. First and foremost what made them to leave. Security reason…Financial reason. If they have left then why worry. Reverend from the uk. barrister from the uk….all keen on saving the local Cardinal. Uk situation is different and Lankan situation is different. We did not want even foreign judges to judge our local differences. Now locals don’t trust our local judges and want foreign judges. A big confusion further complicated by these ratta giye atho.

    • 0
      3

      Nathan, your comments also applies to Shyamon. He is living in Australia happily receiving social security payments from that govt.

      • 5
        0

        Helass

        “He is living in Australia happily receiving social security payments from that govt.”

        Would you like him to share it with you?
        Why don’t you make an effort to find gainful employment, earn, share it with others.
        What is your problem with people who are by law entitled to certain income, pensions, other incomes, and those who work for NGOs, ………….

        Instead go after those crooks live off from looting the state, ………… drug dealers, ….
        You suffer from envy.

  • 1
    1

    As per the SL constitution; Buddhism has a special place and the monks like that exalted position and the laymen grant it to them prostrating. Causing divisions in the Sanga is one of the five main errors that desecrates the dharma according to the Buddha, yet this is a basis of SL (nikaya) Buddhism.
    Rather than criticising the Cardinal that had done more than any other to help avoid a catastrophic conflict that SL has shown to be susceptible to in history, better address the Maha Sanga regarding the selective application of the dharma.
    It is the duty of the president and the government to facilitate justice and in this case it also means to investigate the three accused Muslim ministers. Not, just the Cardinal, but the majority of Sri Lankans would and could not disagree to that, just like the monk. The Thero’s fast in the garden of the Buddhist hierarchy lasted from Friday to Monday and the Cardinals visit on Sunday is pushed as a rush..!%@ think I do not need say any more.

  • 8
    1

    Remember when the Buddhist monks were attacking evangelist places of worships, this Cardinal came out and said that there are no attacks on Christians in Sri Lanka. This Cardinal has become a handmaid of Rajapakse. He is hell bent on brining Rajapakse back to power as he got favors from Mahinda Rajapakse when Mahinda was the President. This Cardinal also talks about foreign interference in Sri Lanka. I would like to ask him, is his appointment not a foreign interference in Sri Lanka? He was appointed by a foreign religious leader the Pope and how come he attacks other foreign involvement in Sri Lanka. When we need foreign support for security, trade, education, health etc.. and the list keeps on growing he attacks foreign involvement. His statements should make every Christian shiver and they should petition the Pope to remove him from his Cardinal ship immediately. He is a wolf wearing sheep’s clothing/

  • 0
    1

    D.P. Good response. It is like how experts describe a painting and valuing it. Many things are subjective. But in deed there are objective issues too to form a more clear opinion.

  • 0
    2

    Though Shyamon shamefully tries to prop up an utterly failed govt, in the people’s eyes it has lost it’s mandate. The good cardinal living among the people of SL knows it better than a bugger living in Australia receiving social security benefits in that country. If SL govt respects people’s will and mandate it wouldn’t be postponing PC elections indefinitely. They by their own actions showed that they are mortally scared to come forward and face the people. If after so much of servitude to Ranil/Mangala gang, Shyamon has gained any sympathy from Ranil he could request RW to test the will of the people. Will Shyamon has the balls to ask it?

  • 4
    0

    Well….it’s your strange deployment of the language that puzzles me.
    For instance:
    “Human brain must. by definition, should be filled with pre-conceived with misconceptions…..”
    Then, again:
    “I feel pathetic in your observation….”, and so on.
    Not to speak of your descent to crudity.
    Do you hold forth like this in Court?

    • 0
      0

      Because you ask me s question I provide an answer. The purpose of a language is to communicate a message and is often adaptable and used in situ. Hence the usage will depend on the forum. The rest I leave for your good selves to conclude

  • 0
    1

    Dear Editor

    I had explained to one of your commentators who had made mistaken statements on Buddhism what Buddhism really means but it seems those comments have been taken out, including the one that preceded the erroneous statement. Wonder why that could have happened. Perhaps the subeditor needs to have a look to see what could have gone wrong. The comments I refer to were on the most recent page.

  • 1
    1

    Perera appears in panchayattu inquiries. All discussed in native and not in queens language.

    • 3
      0

      I am a Buddhist and I totally agree with Mr Jayasinghe. If anyone wants to interfere in politics they should remove their robes. All these monks who want cheap publicity must ask themselves whether they’re acting as Buddhists or as corrupt politians.

      • 2
        1

        Lorna,
        Don’t you think that is going too far? Gnanasara even in his robe is bad enough. Gnanasara nude?!!!

        • 2
          1

          Old codger

          “Gnanasara nude?!!!”

          Doesn’t he have followers, male or female or both?

      • 0
        0

        Lorna – same applies to this ‘so called’ Cardinal. Should first shed his cassock and then join the political bandwagon.

  • 0
    0

    I appeal to Rev. Fernando to please visit Sri Lanka and drive some sense into that ‘so called’ Cardinal, requesting him to stay away from politics. He is an utter disgrace to the Catholic faithful and Catholic Church and has gone far beyond the mandate given to him by the Vatican. I sincerely hope that Rev Fernando will read these comments and take appropriate action instead of pointing fingers and accusing the lay-faithful.

  • 0
    0

    MR. H.C.S. PERERA – yes this ‘so called’ Cardinal is a liar. A man appointed as Cardinal by the Vatican on the recommendation of Mahinda Rajapakse. What more do you expect from him but a boot licker and lackey of Mahinda Rajapakse. He is an utter disgrace to the Catholic faithful and Catholic Church and if he has any dignity will gracefully retire after reading all these comments. Alternately, time the Vatican took appropriate action to relieve him of his role as Archbishop as he has made this once sacred and dignified position into that of an ASSbishop.

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