08/06/2009, 00.00
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Let us build together peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, says new Archbishop Ranjit

by Melani Manel Perera
Political leaders and representatives of the Hindu and Buddhist communities are present at the installation ceremony of the new archbishop of Colombo. Homilies are delivered in Sinhalese and Tamil. Mgr Ranjit mentions his personal friendship with the Pontiff.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – During the ceremony of installation as 9th archbishop of the diocese of Colombo, Mgr Malcom Ranjit urged Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, political leaders and ordinary people to remain united to build together “true peace and reconciliation in the country”.

The solemn ceremony, which took place yesterday, saw the presence of thousands of faithful, representatives of the diocese’s various parishes as well as members of other Christian Churches, and Hindu and Buddhist communities. The country’s bishops and Apostolic Nuncio Joseph Spiteri were also present. The ceremonial Mass was held in Sinhalese, Tamil and English.

The nuncio read the apostolic letter that announced the appointment of the new archbishop, followed by the installation ceremony.

The outgoing archbishop, Mgr Oswald Gomis, delivered the homily in Sinhalese. In it he stressed that the diocese of Colombo had a long history, and that it was established some centuries before the Portuguese reached the island.

Mgr Thomas Savundaranayagam from Jaffna delivered the homily in Tamil.

At the end of the Mass Mgr Ranjit addressed the assembly in Sinhalese and Tamil before an audience that included a number of political leaders.

In his speech the new archbishop called on everyone to pray that he be able to perform his duties as shepherd.

He thanked Pope Benedict XVI for the tie that bound him to the Holy Father, based on “obedience, loyalty, and pastoral care” but also “deep personal friendship.”

He said he hoped that such a bond “between the supreme shepherd and the archdiocese of Colombo may grow further for the joy of the entire Church.”

Mgr Ranjit then addressed priests, young people and all the faithful and spoke about the country’s situation, stressing his wish that entire diocese and all Catholics work for peace in the country. “Our beloved motherland has suffered too much from the ill effects of sectarianism, narrow mindedness, and divisiveness in the past 50 years,” he said.

He also explained that the Church wants to work with the president, with political and religious leaders as well as all citizens to build a just, free and democratic society where differences in religion, race or language do not become a cause of division but rather one of unity.   

A number of Buddhist monks came to the ceremony even though it fell on a day that is important to the Buddhist religion, namely the day of Poya, the full moon.

Speaking to them Mgr Ranjit said: “I want to express my total solidarity with the members of the Maha Sangha (Buddhist monks). As the majority religious groups they want to work for true peace and reconciliation in the nation.”

Mgr Malcom Ranjit, 62, was appointed Colombo’s auxiliary bishop in 1991. In 1995 he was made bishop of Ratnapura. In 2001 he became assistant secretary in the Congregation for the Evangelisation of peoples. Between 2004 and 2005 he was nuncio in Indonesia before returning to the Vatican to be secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship. The Pope appointed him archbishop of Colombo last June and bestowed the pallium upon him last 29 June.

The Archdiocese of Colombo has 657,000 members out of a total population of 5.7 million.

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