Portal Home Page Provincial News Home Email this Page Printable Version RSS Feed

  Other Articles from THIS province
  News by Regions
and Provinces
Online News distributed by the
Church of Ceylon
(Extra-provincial to Archbishop of Canterbury)
Just Behaviour and Justice in Religious Conflicts - Some Concerns
A Statement by the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo
CEYLON 080219-1
February 19, 2008

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] The killing of a Pastor and the serious injury to his wife in Ampara by unidentified gunmen must be condemned by all true adherents of all religions. This violent act calls for a prompt and impartial investigation by the Police who must deal with the perpetrators under the law.

I extend the condolences of our Clergy and Congregations to the Pastor's family and pray for a speedy recovery for his wife. May Jesus the Good Shepherd lead you from death to life as you forgive and reconcile with those who have hurt you so grievously.

This murder and certain recent inter-religious tensions in the Ampara District have caused concern amongst small scattered Christian communities in the area. Consequently I call upon the IGP to ensure the safety and protection of Christian Clergy and Congregations in order that they may freely practice their Christian faith.

If the behaviour of some persons of one religion have hurt the feelings of persons of another religion, a responsible inter-religious team should be appointed to mediate and restore harmony. It is this way that religious dignity and freedom is sustained through conflict in multi-religious societies like ours. Violence and murder is never the answer.

Media reports of some Pastors being recently taken into custody for allegedly being in possession of suicide jackets have also caused anxiety amongst Christians. This could lead to a new wave of suspicion and antagonism against Christian Clergy in general.

In order that justice may be done by all and inter religious trust restored soon, I call upon the Police to expedite an impartial investigation and to make its findings public. If the suspects are guilty they must be dealt with under the law. Christian action that supports wilful death and destruction is a contradiction of the Christian Gospel and is totally unacceptable. In such an event it will also be necessary for the particular Church concerned to tender a public apology, and for all Churches to review their procedure of selection and training for the ministry to prevent a repetition of such happenings.

If on the other hand these pastors are innocent they must be released and they and their Church publicly exonerated. The corporate goodwill of many will then be required to eliminate prejudice and restore the good name of this church and its members.

In the meantime I appeal to those conducting investigations and the media to refrain from releasing bits of information until investigations are complete and the full story known. Some information made public before all is known, is improper and can lead to a hasty and unfair judgement of religious leaders and communities.

The shelling of a church in Mannar by the LTTE in which six soldiers were killed has led to conflicting reports. Yet regardless of these different versions, the wilful attack on a place of worship must be condemned.

The perpetrators on both sides of this war must take full responsibility for the wider war culture in which incidents like these occur. The absence of a neutral monitoring body easily encourages impunity; and the continuing disregard for acceptable ethical and humanitarian norms easily facilitates the occupation and destruction of places of worship.

In these circumstances every death of a soldier, militant cadre or civilian is a cause for sorrow and regret. While the final solution is for an early ceasefire and peace negotiations, it can never be too late to implement checks and balances to ensure a humanitarian war till then.

With peace and blessings to all.

The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo
19th February 2008