05/17/2023, 18.47
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Catholic Church slams Pastor Fernando for insulting other religions

by Melani Manel Perera

A controversial televangelist who heads a church he founded is sowing discord in the country with outrageous remarks about Buddha. Cardinal Ranjith, who stressed that the pastor is not connected in any way with the Catholic Church, wants people who spread hate to be investigated. Buddhist groups demand his arrest. For his part, the pastor said he would meet his followers next Sunday in the country.

Colombo (Asia News) – Pastor Jerome Fernando, a televangelist who founded his own Global Glorious Church, has sparked heated arguments in Sri Lanka.

Pastor Fernando has aroused outrage for some derogatory remarks he made about the Buddha and other religions, which found a huge echo on social media and generated strong tensions.

Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo waded into the controversy in order to clarify that the preacher is not a Catholic priest nor has any links with the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka.

Speaking about the matter, Card Ranjith wondered yesterday why the authorities so far "have not investigated those who contaminate the minds of people with false religious beliefs.”

The New Buddhist Front (Nawa Bikshu Peramuna) and the Pure Hela (Sinhala) Heritage (Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, PHU) party filed a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) against Jerome Fernando, demanding his immediate arrest.

The CID went before the Fort Magistrate’s Court yesterday, which issue an overseas travel ban against the clergyman, but he had already left the island on Sunday.

Nevertheless, on his Instagram account, Fernando gave an appointment to his followers for next Sunday, 21 May, at his church in Colombo.

“Details about people who backed Pastor Jerome have appeared lately on social media,” said Fr Cyril Gamini Fernando, media spokesman for the Archdiocese of Colombo. “It is shocking to note that no probe has been conducted with regard to this matter.”

For him, “One cannot rule out interreligious conflicts as a result of statements like the ones made by Pastor Jerome. We cannot forget this country’s past. We urge people to be aware of those who rouse ethnic and religious hatred.”

As a principle, “Everyone in this country has the right to follow any faith, but no one has the right to insult the religion followed by others. And the law must guarantee that.”

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