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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2610

Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle’s Death Cast a Shadow on Catholic Bishops’ Loyalty to Sri Lanka

By Keith Amarasiri in Long Beach

Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle’s untimely death has convinced many Christians living outside Sri Lanka that LTTE has no respect for religion and religious places. They are also completely baffled by the nonchalant attitude of the Catholic Bishop Conference in Sri Lanka on LTTE’s guile masquerading as defenders of the sacred Madhu premises. I read the Asian Tribune reader from LA, Stephen Long’s article yesterday posing the question why the spiritual leadership of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka got duped by the LTTE to push through their evil designs. Many others I know have voiced their disbelief at the inaction of the Sri Lankan Catholic Bishop Conference. Their neutrality in the midst of an openly treacherous path taken by the LTTE is completely inexplicable.

In a nut shell these are the issues now confronting the Catholic Bishops: They cannot take the side of the LTTE terrorists. They should seriously re-think their role in the civil conflict, and decide once and for all which side they are morally bound to take. The Bishop of Mannar by allowing the LTTE to continuously act with impunity has made the Tamils in the North pawns in this apparent and dubious scheme of the LTTE trying to make the Christians look completely unpatriotic.

The LTTE had moved the statue of Madhu to a church well inside their lines of control. A neutral place would have been the ideal thing to do. * Declaring protective motives, they moved the sacred statue of the Virgin Mary from the shrine at Madhu to the church at Thevanpitti, which is in the LTTE zone. By choosing this site rather than someplace in an area, they have made the statue a symbol and rallying point for the LTTE.

The neutrality the Bishops talk of must not only be real and but also seemingly so. In terms of the Terrorist war waged by the LTTE, there is no room to be on the fence. The LTTE has never respected places of religious worship. Silence of the Bishops can only be construed as a tacit condoning of what the Tigers are doing. It is a compelling moral urgency that the Catholic Bishops take a lead role in getting the sacred Madhu statue from the control of the LTTE. That is one way to ensure that late Jeyaraj Fernandopulle the devout catholic did not die in vain.

Jeyaraj Fernandopulle was an endearing leader who served his country well. He was the epitome of racial and religious harmony. He died attending a Tamil and Sinhala New Year festival event. We will be paying our utmost respect to the memory of late Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle by condemning in no uncertain terms our total condemnation of the repulsive LTTE atrocities.

- Asian Tribune -

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