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Church condemns Mangala over criticism of Cardinal

Rev. Fr. Freely Muthukudarachchi, Secretary, Council of Priests, Archdiocese of Colombo, yesterday, condemned Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera for his recent criticism of Malcolm Cardinal Rajith.

Samaraweera called on the Vatican and Pope Francis to take note of Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith visiting MP Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera in Kandy on Monday, while he was engaged in a fast demanding the resignation of Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and Provincial Governors M. L. A M. Hisbullah and Azath Salley.

Cardinal Ranjith by going all the way to Kandy and shaking Thera’s hands had aggravated hatred and communalism, Samaraweera said, adding that he had bought to the notice of the Vatican Pope Francis the damage that Cardinal Ranjith had caused to communal amity and national reconciliation by choosing to visit Rathana Thera at that juncture when the country was trying to recover from the April 21st Easter Sunday suicide bomb blasts by the National Thowheed Jamath, which left 258 people dead and around 500 injured.

The following is the text of statement issued by Rev. Fr. Muthukudarachchi.

"We, the members of the Council of Priests of the Archdiocese of Colombo categorically condemn the twitter message circulated by Minister Mangala Samaraweera on 03rd June 2019 giving a distorted interpretation of His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith’s visit to Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero along with two other bishops and some Catholic clergy. The Venerable Thera on hunger strike in the precincts of the Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha Kandy.

"As known to all in our country, Ven. Athraliye Rathana Thera was on a hunger strike on behalf of the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks demanding the expediting of the outcome of the investigations that are underway and the removal from office of two Governors of the Provinces and a minister attached to the Sri Lankan government who is alleged to have had close with those responsible for extremist terrorist activities in Sri Lanka.

"We also state that as Catholics we will continue to support the peace efforts among religions especially between Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and other peoples as a long standing common heritage of the citizens of Sri Lanka and inform Minister Samaraweera and all others engaged in spreading erroneous and vengeful comment via social media of the same.

"We strongly voice our opposition to Minister Mangala Samaraweera who has criticised efforts of religious harmony advocated by His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith by his imprudent twitter message.

We highly commend the leadership given by His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday attack on 21st April 2019 by his appeal to remain calm and ensured religious harmony in the country, especially appealing not to harm the Muslim community. We salute His Eminence for the great contribution he made during this crisis to maintain National Peace in Sri Lanka."