First hearing for Missionary of Charity charged with “selling children” postponed
by Melani Manel Perera
Trial will open on December 15. Police ask for time for further investigation. Much criticism from the Catholic world on Church silence. Some fear that there is an attempt to encourage Buddhist orphanages behind the charge.
Colombo (AsiaNews) - The first hearing in the case of Sister Eliza, Missionary of Charity accused of "selling children" from her hostel for single mothers (Prem Nives, pictured), has been postponed to 15 December. Scheduled for today, the judge accepted the police request to allow time to conduct further investigations. Responding to figures close to the religious who condemned "unclear" newspaper reports, the judge stated that "the media should work with responsibility." Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Diocese of Colombo, Fr. Joseph Benedict, said that the Church "is taking action", but has not yet issued any official statement. And according to different personalities of the Catholic world, this very silence "is causing untold worst harm to the Sisters of Mother Teresa, giving way to useless speculations in the tabloid press."
For Fr Oswald B. Firth, a former regional superior for Sri Lanka of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, now in Australia, commented on the story of children sold by Missionaries as "pure garbage. I know for some time and these sisters have been doing a wonderful job. In full respect for the Word of God, they take the abandoned children from the streets, offering a home to young mothers who do not know where to go, without distinction of religion, language or race. "
Others directly accuse Anoma Dissanayake, director of the National Child Protection Auctority (NCPA), of being behind the premeditated media and legal attack on the Missionaries of the hostel, to promote Buddhist orphanages.
"When I read about the case of Sister Eliza - Fr Maria Anthony, a former Jesuit provincial for Sri Lanka, now in Pakistan tells AsiaNews - it seemed all too much. The NCPA director’s hurry to tell the media things not yet proven shows that the woman had it all planned. " The Jesuit is also perplexed by the position taken by the Church: "I called some friends in Sri Lanka, everyone tells me that the Church is silent on the issue. But the faithful have a right to know the truth. "
In response to the allegations, a spokesman for the Diocese of Columbo told AsiaNews that "everyone has the right to ask and know the truth. But as the Church manages one situation rather than another changes from time to time. Let us work, we will know everything in due time. "
According to Jude Perera, a social activist in the north of the country, the media attack is "a way to hurt Christians." Indeed, he recalls, "the president of the NCPA asked her staff not to disturb an orphanage run by Buddhist monks, in the Vaviniya". The structure, the activist says, "is the home of Tamil children, forced to shave their heads and practice Buddhism, without being able to see their families."
Anura Ranatunga, a Buddhist from Colombo, defends the work of the Missionaries, "I know a lot of Buddhist girls, mothers and daughters, they have received the best care and attention from these sisters. We must all thank the nuns for what they have done in recent years. "