No visa; Cardinal cancels visit to Britain

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s visa application to travel to Britain has been turned down due to incomplete information, prompting the cancellation of an event due to take place in a London church.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, was to conduct mass at St. George’s Cathedral at Southwark in London, and address a meeting on February 4, the day of Sri Lanka’s Independence from British colonial rule. A spokesman for the Cardinal declined to give details, but other church sources said the application was turned down as it failed to give details requested in the application form including details of his previous visits to Britain.

The British High Commission declined to comment saying, “UK visas and Immigration does not comment on individual visa applications; all visa applications are assessed on their individual merits.”

A notice circulated ahead of the visit had said that, following Mass at 12:30 pm, Cardinal Ranjith, would give a talk in Amigo Hall, reflecting on his experience as former director of Missio, the Catholic Church’s foremost mission support charity.

“The country is still recovering from the very long civil war during which 100,000 people were killed and almost as many displaced; and the devastation due to the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Ethnic tensions between the majority Sinhalese (mainly Buddhist) community, the minority Tamils (mostly Hindu with a Christian minority) and Muslims, have led to social and political upheaval since independence in 1948. Although Catholics form only 6% of the population, the Church (supported by parishioners’
Red Box donations), has played a major role in promoting reconciliation… It has worked tirelessly on post-tsunami reconstruction and relief of poverty with Missio’s help,” the note said.

A notice circulated later said, “We are sorry to inform you that the Mass and event we planned to hold at St. George’s Cathedral, Southwark, at the Amigo Hall with Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Sri Lanka on Thursday 4th February has been cancelled. Cardinal Ranjith has cancelled his visit to the UK, as he is no longer able to travel to London. This is for reasons beyond his, and our, control….”