Card Ranjith: Charges against the Sisters of Mother Teresa should be withdrawn as soon as possible
by Melani Manel Perera
The archbishop of Colombo breaks the Church’s silence on the Prem Nivasa case, which involves the Missionaries of Charity allegedly selling the babies of unwed mothers. The cardinal attacks the lies and ambiguities reported in local media, announces that he will not take part in any official event until the truth comes out. He calls on the country’s Catholics to pray for “the misguided people” who made the accusations and “the good mission of the sisters in Sri Lanka.”
Colombo (AsiaNews) – Card Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, called on all parties to withdraw as soon as possible the “groundless accusations” against the Missionaries of Charity and the Prem Nivasa in Moratwa, adding that he would not attend any official function until the matters is not cleared.

After a long wait, the archbishop of Colombo held a press conference to register his protest against the unjust charges made against Sister Mary Eliza, a sister of Mother Teresa who runs the Prim Nivasa hostel for unwed mothers, who is accused of selling babies. The cardinal also called on the country’s Catholics to pray for “the misguided people” who made the accusations and for “the good mission of the sisters in Sri Lanka.”

“The Missionaries of Prem Nivasa never sold any children,” the prelate said, “nor gave any child in adoption to foreign or Sri Lankan couples without following court orders and the rules of the Probation Office of the Ministry of Social Affairs. “Probation officials visit Prem Nivasa regularly to help the nuns in their work with orphans and mothers. The director of the Probation Office said in an interview that the sisters’ work was in order.”

Card Ranjith criticised a number of articles published in the local media, guilty in his eyes, of besmirching the image of the Sisters of Mother Teresa and their mission.

“Some papers wrote that children were sold for 700,000 (about US$ 6,000). Others said that children were sold for 35,000 rupees (US$ 300). They are all lies. The Sinhalese paper Lankadeepa published an article titled ‘It is questionable to see that only the handicapped children are taken abroad’. It gives a wrong impression, suggesting that disabled children go abroad for other purposes, like illegal organ trafficking. There is always a possibility of misunderstanding and in this case the charges are very serious and dangerous.”

The archbishop also explained his long silence over the case. “At the start, I decided not to speak out on the matter because it was before the court. However, foreign media criticism led me to clarify the position of the Church in Sri Lanka, citing for example an article that appeared in AsiaNews (Melani Manel Perera, “First hearing for Missionary of Charity charged with “selling children” postponed,” in AsiaNews, 1 December 2011).