06/30/2010, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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School texts in Sri Lanka defame Christians, the Church and the Pope

by Melani Manel Perera
The new textbooks offered by the Ministry equate Christianity and Western culture, accused of trying to destroy the Sinhalese culture. Archbishop of Colombo: "This is an attempt to bring disharmony between religious communities and to inculcate a defamatory image in the minds of students."

Colombo (AsiaNews) - "The history and geography programs used in schools and published by the Ministry contain conclusions that defame the Catholic Church, the Holy Father and Catholics”, denounces Mgr. Malcolm Ranjit, Archbishop of Colombo, who these days has met Bandula Gunawerdena, Minister of Education, to discuss the problem.

The new textbooks proposed by the Ministry equate Christianity and Western culture, accused of trying to destroy Sinhalese culture.  According to these books, the message of goodness that Jesus brought and is no longer lived within the Church. Under the "religious renewal" section, Christianity is introduced as an obstacle to other religions and Catholic education institutes are seen as a way to propagate the Roman Catholic faith.  Repeated complaints from Catholic principals and teachers in history and geography attracted the Archbishop’s attention to this issue.

"This is an attempt to bring disharmony between religious communities and instil a defamatory concept in the minds of students," said Mgr. Ranjit, during his meeting with the minister. The archbishop urged the minister to review the publication of the texts, suggesting a review by an interfaith committee. He also confirmed his readiness to cooperate with the government in building society.

To date Gunawerdena has assured an immediate review of books and correction of errors.  

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