Father Emmanuelıs comparison of Prabakan to Jesus Christ is a sacrilege
By TILAK S. FERNANDO
Rev. Father S. J. Emmanuelıs comparison of the LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabakaran to Jesus Christ has generated a feeling of remorse and resentment among various sections of the Sri Lankan expatriate community living in London. They claim that such a statement is a sacrilege & are calling for condemnation from all Christians and other co-religionists ; such a vile comparison of a ruthless terrorist, who was described recently in the London Times as a ³remorseless megalomaniac ² to the Great Redeemer, venerated by millions throughout the world for his message of love and compassion to friend and foe alike is the greatest insult to a world teacher they say. The controversial statement was carried in a newspaper interview by a journalist from the ³ INDEPENDENT², a national British newspaper published in the UK sometime ago after an interview with the Roman Catholic Father Emmanuel in Jaffna.
³The Independent² article under the caption ³ Boys and Girls Come out to Play² described how young cadres were recruited by the LTTE to its ranks and it dealt with terrorist war in general. Although it was slotted into the popular Week-End Magazine, it failed to carry a balanced and unbiased account of the war. During the interview Father Emmanuel was quoted as describing Velupillai Prabakaran as a freedom fighter who has given the leadership to a movement committed to setting up the homeland to Tamil Eelam so that oppressed Tamil people could be saved from the chauvinist Sinhala regimeı .
Agitated Lankan expatriates told LankaWeb that it was very unfortunate that the Roman Catholic Church of Sri Lanka had not taken any action to date, to curb the activities of Father S.J. Emmanuel, Vicar General of Jaffna, regarding his role as the voice of the LTTE engaging in a vicious propaganda campaign against the Sri Lankan Government, targeted at the Tamil expatriates, foreign governments and organisations.
It is alleged that Father Emmanuel, in his writings and speeches , has defended the terrorist activities of the LTTE as a liberation struggle committed to usher in the state of Eelam, claiming territory comprising two thirds of the coast line and one third of the land mass of the island. The most blatant activities of Father Emmanuel are said to be well known and beyond belief, and the Roman Catholic hierarchy is blamed for failing so far to curb his actions in fanning the flames of a war which has caused untold misery to thousands of innocent lives.
The agitated Sri Lankan expatriate group states that Father Emmanuelıs foreign visits as apologist and publicity supremo for the LTTE in seeking support, both moral and financial, from the Tamil expatriate communities living in foreign climes as well known. In a recent visit to Canberra in Australia he is alleged to have addressed several meetings where he used the old judaic ( not Christian slogan ) and raised the rallying cry ³Let my people go² as if to convey the erroneous message that the Sinhalese are keeping the Tamils in some from of bondage !.
The position of the Roman Catholic Church of Sri Lanka, the expatriate Lankan group say¸ on this issue is indefensible when compared to the stance it has taken in the case of Rev. Father Tissa Balasooriya, also a Catholic priest, [The Centre for Society and Religion] who has challenged the Church on certain doctrinal issues on an intellectual plane.
Father Balasuriya has been spearheading a campaign to settle the ethnic conflict by building bridges for peace and reconciliation. It is relevant to refer here to a well attended meeting held in London, a few years ago, where the audience comprised Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Burgher expatriates settled down in the UK. Rev. Fr. Balasooriya did not whip up communal feelings¸ the group say, instead he appealed to those present to do whatever they could to bring peace to the war torn Sri Lanka. Why is the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Sri Lanka determined to victimise a member of its clergy with pacifist aims while turning a blind eye to a demagoguery and treacherous activities of Fr. Emmanuel which goes against the sublime teachings of Christianity, on the issue of peace of reconciliation, they ask.
Loyalty to Rome on doctrinal matters does not in any way prevent the Roman Catholic Church of Sri Lanka to exercise some element of patriotism to the country whose people have shown tolerance in the past as well as present and helped Catholicism to flourish, many believe. After all, Sri Lanka is a multi-racial and multi-religious country and it would not be in the interest of the country for enclaves to be carved on racial or religious lines.
Sri Lankan expatriate group in London claim that Father Emmanuel may be directing his efforts to be ordained as the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church of the idealistic state of Tamil Eelam. If so, it is the patriotic duty of the Roman Catholic Church of Sri Lanka to discourage such efforts and declare categorically that it is against the division of the country on a basis of ethnicity. Father Emmanuel should be disciplinedı is the cry emanating from London for his crusade of destruction in supporting and encouraging the LTTE to carry on its terrorist activities.