Catholic bishops warn that Sri Lanka is close to the worst tragedy in its history
by Melani Manel Perera

In a statement released at the end of its Plenary Assembly, the Bishops' Conference calls for urgent government action to help people left to fend for themselves. The prelates demand the repeal of an amendment to the constitution that concentrated too many powers in the hands of the president. They urge fellow Sri Lankans to stay away from violence in any form.

Colombo (Asia News) – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCSL) issued a statement at the end of its recent plenary assembly warning that violence is a real danger as the country’s economic crisis worsens.

To cope with the situation, the bishops urge the government to immediately change its policies and amend the constitution to limit the powers of the president.

“We earnestly urge the government to take drastic steps to address these issues and bring about justice, equity and open the way for our children and youth to have a country to live with dignity,” reads the CBCSL statement.

“People are stranded [. . .] without basic needs such as food, fuel and domestic and industrial gas. Patients are left in the lurch without the medicine needed to sustain their life. Parents are yearning to find milk food for infants and children,” the statement goes on to say.

For the CBCSL, “The tragedy that has struck our nation is in no uncertain terms the worst of our times." Hence, they demand the caretaker government in power address these issues and free the population from daily suffering.

“There should be a relief package to provide basic food items to the poorest of the poor. The unbridled rise in prices of basic necessities, shortages and hoarding seriously affect the day-to-day lives of people who are forced to stay in long queues”.

The statement also notes that, “It is so unfortunate that our leaders have allowed the 20th Amendment to be passed in parliament”; in fact, the CBCSL is very concerned that the changes to the constitution have concentrated too many powers in the hands of the president.

The Catholic bishops reiterate the need for the “absolute independence of the judiciary"” and all other commissions, “subject only to the guidance of the parliament." Only "This way, true democracy can be re-instituted in the country.”

To reach this goal, everyone should desist from violence, and insist that the government respect the legitimate right to freedom of expression and movement guaranteed by the constitution.