Towards a muti-religious society
Daily Mirror Editorial
Dec 20, 2011

According to the Constitution, Buddhism is given a special place while people of all other religions are allowed to practise their religion freely. However, certain events in recent months have allowed room for questions whether we are truly committed to a multi-religious society where we practise our own religions but also respect the faith and belief of others. It is only when the truth in all religions is brought together that we will come closer to the fullness of the truth.

In one such negative event last month officials of the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) with the Police raided the premises of the Rawathawatte Prem Nivasa, a home run by the Missionaries of Charity a feet-washing congregation founded by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Blessed Theresa.

This according to media reports was carried out on information provided by an unnamed person or group.

The Prem Nivasa is doing what few if any other homes are willing or able to do - the dedicated nuns in the home take care of unwed mothers and their babies.

Recently there has been media publicity about fighting violence against women and girls. The Blessed Theresa Home in Rawathawatte is providing a home for the victims of such violence and abuse. Moreover the Government Department of Probation sends women and children to be looked after at this home. While appreciating the work of the NCPA and the Police to curb child abuse one must not forget that the Blessed Theresa Home in Rawathawatte is part of a widely respected global network.

As Blessed Theresa herself had done, the members of this congregation selflessly look after people who could be described as, "the wretched of the earth". These sisters apart from their usual vows of obedience, chastity and poverty have also a fourth vow -- of being like beggars for they beg on the streets wherever they are once a week.

Also it must be remembered that the Blessed Theresa in her diaries has written that if Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims take their teachings of love, compassion and sharing seriously and practise them our world will be a different place with a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources. Therefore the intentions of the Blessed Theresa Home are clear. They meet the needs of people at the point of their need.

Therefore the recent raid with exaggerated, unbalanced and unfair reports or slander spotlighted in certain sections of the media had created religious tension at a time when the ethnic crisis has yet not been solved two-and-half years after the end of the war. The religious tension came to a breaking point when the Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and Anuradhapura's Bishop Norbert Andradi said they would boycott state events for Christmas until the injustice done to the nun who heads the Prem Nivasa Home was rectified. Thankfully this was done last Thursday when on the advice of the Attorney General, the case against the nun was withdrawn by the NCPA.

What happened at the Blessed Theresa Home in Rawathawatte needs to be seen in the context of the recent references to the possibility of reactivating the controversial Anti Conversion Bill of years ago.

We are still recovering from the devastating war which could be traced to the problem of language. May we therefore not move from language to religion to create another conflict.

It is here that we need the services of sincere, selfless and sacrificial leaders of all the faith communities to take Mother Lanka from religious tension to all-religions' dialogue and deep unity in diversity.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka