Tewatte (AsiaNews) – A festive crowd welcomed Mgr Albert Malcolm Ranjith home on Saturday, fresh from his appointment as cardinal. Waving flags and beating drums, people shouted “Hail! Long live our cardinal.” Upon arrival, the prelate went straight to Our Lady of Lanka, in Tewatta (Ragawa), for a prayer of remembrance in honour of Mgr Cooray, Sri Lanka’s first cardinal. After the brief ceremony, he blessed more than 3,000 people, Catholics and non-Catholics, who had gathered at the basilica to welcome him.
Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, nuncio to Sri Lanka, was present at the airport when the new cardinal arrived. Episcopal vicars from the archdiocese, other religious leaders and government representatives also attended the event.
In the basilica, the cardinal called on the faithful to pray for him that he may be able to accomplish his mission under the guidance of Benedict XVI, whom he personally thanked again for his appointment as cardinal.
Card Ranjith pledged that he was personally committed to promoting the Church’s work in the world. “The Sri Lanka Catholic Church is only a part of universal Catholic Church. Under the guidance of the Holy Father I committed myself to serve the Catholic Church and serve God,” he said.
Finally, the prelate, who stressed that he would continue all the programmes already in place in the archdiocese, thanked all those who took part in the ceremony and all those who greeted him along the road from the airport.
Speaking to AsiaNews, many of those who joined the prayer said they were happy about his appointment, which they called a “blessing for the entire country”.
They also expressed their thoughts about Sri Lanka’s difficult political situation. “We hope that card Ranjith can work against human rights violations, especially among the poor,” they said.