Lankan bishops’ conference silence surprises Christian forum

Bishop Rev Rayappu Joseph

Colombo – The Christian Solidarity Movement has expressed their surprise over the silence observed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka over the derogatory remarks that are being made against Bishop Rev. Rayappu Joseph of Mannar blessing the common Opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

The CSM releasing a media statement over the remarks that have been made by certain leading government Ministers as well as in state media over Sirisena meeting Bishop Joseph on December 30 to seek his blessings, has pointed out that when President Rajapaksa too approached the same Bishop for the same purpose no issue was raised and neither have any remarks being made branding him as the ‘Tiger Leader’ or the ‘Tiger Bishop’.

While expressing their concern over the verbal attacks that have been launched by the politicians, the CSM has called for a clarification on whether the views expressed by such politicians is reflective of the government’s point of view.

Furthermore the CSM has pointed out that these comments are an indication of the abysmal depths that the local politics have fallen into due to the entry of undisciplined and uneducated persons entering politics.

The CSM has also urged the Bishops Conference to raise the issue at the national level and to stand by their fellow brother Bishop who has been the ‘voice of the voiceless’ for the people of Mannar as well as the whole of Sri Lanka.

Below the letter in full;

Derogatory remarks made about Bishop Rayappu Joseph of Mannar diocese.

Common opposition candidate Mr. Maithripala Sirisena on an election campaign to the north met the Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph on 30 December and sought his blessings in view of the January 08 presidential poll. This event was then used in the government electronic media as an advertisement in a very uncouth manner, throwing derogatory comments about Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph that it was from the ‘Tiger Leader’ that the common candidate Mr. Maithripala Sirisena received blessings for the forthcoming presidential election.

However, a few days later the President Rajapaksha too approached the same Bishop for the same purpose but there was no such a remark made by anyone about a ‘tiger bishop’ blessing the incumbent President.

We, Christians and concerned people, are disturbed and perturbed over Bishop of Mannar being the object of a verbal attack of a personal nature launched by the politicians with self interest at this crucial juncture of our history. A clarification is now needed whether the views expressed by such politicians is reflective of the Government’s point of view.

We call on politicians to stop the harassment of Bishop Rayappu immediately. Unlike the most politicians who have served themselves than their people, Bishop Rayappu Joseph has fostered common good, the spirit of humanism and human rights. We like to reiterate that Bishop Joseph has looked after his flock – not just Catholic Christians, but Christians of all denominations, non-Christians, and others. He is not only the leader of the Catholic diocese in Mannar, but a humanitarian, who had stood for the rights of all Sri Lankans.

Making such vulgar accusations on a religious leader merely to gain political mileage is very unethical. It is an indication as to what an abysmal depth our politics have fallen into, due to the entry of the undisciplined and uneducated persons into politics.

We as the CSM condemn the uncouth and unethical remarks about Bishop Rayappu, made by one of the leading government ministers once again at the final rally held at Kesbewa in support of the incumbent President.

At the same time we are surprised to note the silence observed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka on this matter. We urge the Bishops’ conference, to raise this issue at the national level and to stand by their fellow brother bishop who had been the ‘voice of the voiceless’ people of Mannar and in the whole island of Sri Lanka.

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