Colombo (AsiaNews) - "Praise" for the services performed in defense of the "dignity" of the country in a time when Sri Lanka was fighting the war against one of the most vicious terrorist groups in the world, "the rebel Tamil Tigers in the north (LTTE). These the words of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, celebrating the appointment of Cardinal Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo. The newly appointed cardinal has underlined: "The Catholic community is close to President Rajapaksa's efforts to eliminate the distrust between groups," to "unite all Sri Lanka eliminating terrorism."
President Rajapaksa was speaking during an official event, held last December 6 at the Bandaranayake Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) in Colombo. The ceremony was organized to celebrate Cardinal Ranjith, after the consistory of November 20 when he received the cardinal's hat from Pope Benedict XVI. The event was attended by Mgr. Joseph Speteri, Apostolic Nuncio in Sri Lanka, bishops, priests, nuns, along with the Sinhalese premier, DM Jayaratne, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Chamali Rajapaksa Speaker of the House, as well as the opposition leader Ranil Wicremasinghe and the chief justice Asoka De Silva. The appointment of Cardinal Ranjith, says the president is an "honor for the entire population", the cardinal has always "thought of the homeland", even during periods spent abroad. "His Eminence has extended his assistance - said Rajapaksa - to the less fortunate without expecting anything in return." He worked hard to build harmony between different religions in the country. Finally, the President wanted to send a message to the whole Catholic community, calling it a "brotherhood of peace" in the country and asked it to "provide the utmost care to protect and promote the newly won peace ".
Cardinal Ranjith said that the best way to resolve problems is through "dialogue and cooperation." "The Catholic community - the cardinal stated - is close to President Rajapaksa's efforts to eliminate the distrust between groups, and unite all Sri Lanka eliminating terrorism." The Archbishop of Colombo added that the most effective way to defeat the cells of the LTTE rebels abroad is "to create a civil administration in the north," confirming that "Catholics are committed to bringing prosperity to the motherland." He then warned "misled" priests who, working from abroad, promote "divisions" in the country, the cardinal expressed "regret" over this question and reciprocated "appreciation" for Rajapaksa’s efforts for peace in Sri Lanka.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith celebrated the first public Mass of Thanksgiving last December 4 in the cathedral of Saint Lucia in Colombo. The function, the first in his native land after the delivery of the cardinal's hat, was attended by more than 2 thousand people, including the papal nuncio, bishops, priests, nuns and lay people, including relatives of the archbishop. During the homily, the cardinal explained the appointment as an "opportunity" to better serve the universal Church and his homeland.