By E. Weerapperuma
The incumbent Monk of the Ashwaththaraama Historical Temple at Thalgasyaaya, Akmeemana, Galle Ven. Matugama Gunarathana Thero last week heaped praise on Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith for his leadership following Sri Lanka’s worst tragedy in recent history on Easter Sunday.
“Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith had the guts, the courage, not any politician, to declare without any hesitation that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country,” said Ven. Matugama Gunarathana Thero speaking at an award presentation ceremony held to mark 45th anniversary of Ashwaththaraama Historical Temple at Thalgasyaaya, Akmeemana, Galle.
“I was very much impressed by his declaration and I was keen to invite him for this occasion, said welcoming His Eminence Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, to this ceremony,” Gunarathana Thero said adding that the courageous declaration by a great Catholic prelate of the country calling Sri Lanka, was very impressive.
“I like his outspoken nature. I was very much impressed when he said that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country. He is very impartial and speaks out boldly with conviction. I wanted to get down His Eminence to this temple and make him our Chief Guest at the certificate award ceremony for the 45th consecutive year at the Siripavarakiththi Dhaham Paasala.
Gunarathana Thero said: “My decision has nothing to do with what happened on Easter Sunday and how he gave leadership to bring about an atmosphere of peace and calm in every part of the country. I personally went and invited him for this occasion on 4 April, and he was very glad and willingly accepted my invitation. We welcome him with all due respect.”
Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith addressing those present as the Chief Guest at the award presentation ceremony to the Dhaham Paasala students said: “The lack of discipline within the rank and file of politicians in the Sri Lankan political arena has created a sordid, regrettable and very disappointing situation in our country.”
“Murder has gradually become a part and parcel of Sri Lankan culture,” lamented Cardinal Ranjith.
He went onto say: “This blessed land of ours today has turned out to be a playing field of reckless murderous gangsters and killers of precious human life. Our motherland, the land of our birth was soaked with innocent blood when the murderous terrorists blasted bombs killing and injuring hundreds of devotees present at religious places on Easter Sunday. The reason for this state of affairs is crystal clear. It is nothing but the lack of discipline among our politicians and they have created that unfortunate situation, the country experienced.”
Cardinal Ranjith also expressed fear that differences of opinions of the present day politicians might jeopardise the process of investigations into the Easter Sunday terrorist attack, which had turned the country into a pool of blood.
“We are of the view that the terrorist bomb attack on Easter Sunday was not something that came out in haste, all of a sudden. But it was an act carried out after long years of planning. We also do not know whether it was a plan within or outside of our country. But the attack though aimed at the Catholics and Christians churches, its impact was not limited to that religious sector but the impact of the attack was felt in and out of the entire country,” he added. The Cardinal who attended the award ceremony on the invitation of Gunarathana Thero was accompanied by Bishop of Galle Diocese Rev. Raymond Wickremesinghe.
Among the distinguished invitees to grace the occasion was Shiysamopali Chapter Chief Monk Ven. Uduwalagama Sri Mahinda Naayaka Thero and the members of the Sanga Community.