02/11/2021, 13.49
SRI LANKA
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Card Ranjith against proselytising by radical pastors and groups

by Melani Manel Perera

At a press conference, the cardinal appeals to the government to be vigilant. The situation is “very serious” and could undermine “religious harmony and national unity.” Religious movements that “do not have an administrative structure” need to be regulated.

 

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The situation is “very serious” in Sri Lanka and this “directly affects religious harmony and national unity,” said this morning Card Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo.

In an impassioned appeal, the prelate calls on the country’s leaders and the faithful to “examine their way of life, its quality,” and for action “to regulate religious groups that do not have an administrative structure. This represents a serious problem.”

In light of the gravity of the situation, the cardinal called a press conference at the Archbishopric, drawing the attention of government authorities to religious groups who want to destroy confessional harmony in the country.

For the prelate, this requires “urgent action” by the government to stop the drift towards extremism and violence. To this end, all Sri Lankans must work together, regardless of their faith.

Card Ranjith explained that the Catholic Church has no extremist programmes” and has never pursued “forced conversions” or offered “economic benefits to persuade people” to embrace the faith. “Our parents, our forefathers lived inspired by religious values.”

Instead, he urged people not to convert to a faith for personal gain or benefit because “this would represent an insult to religion”.

This is a reference to the growing trend among some radical Protestant and Evangelical preachers to proselytise by offering benefits in order to convert the greatest number of people.

Unscrupulous individuals target especially the sick and suffering, people in need without food or work, promising immediate help.

Such groups also stir tensions and divisions between different ethnic and religious communities with the “evil” goal of fuelling chaos.

Ultimately, “Christianity is a commitment and one cannot live Christianity without suffering,” Card Ranjith explained. “If we are unable to accept suffering and embrace the cross” we cannot call ourselves true Christians.

One of the peculiarities of Catholics is respect for the identity of other religions. For the cardinal, this means that “we are not engaged in this type of activity.” In fact, “I must stress that we are not part of this strategy . . . Jesus is not magic.”

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