ASIA/SRI LANKA - A STUDY - Harmony and religious freedom: the paths of peace for civil development and the progress of peoples SRI LANKA (society and religion)

Saturday, 10 July 2004

Colombo (Fides Service) - Peace and religious freedom, two of the highest values of civil harmony are threatened in Sri Lanka. A recent suicide bombing in the centre of the capital Colombo and a Bill presented in Parliament to ‘prohibit conversions’ are the latest of a series of disquieting signals which are a cause of concern all people of good will and all those who desire development and progress for their country.
Social justice, economic growth, the necessary distinction between politics and religion are and must remain the basic principles for the life of the nation. This has been affirmed frequently by the Bishops of Sri Lanka in the past during the dark years of civil war and in the present when active political militancy on the part of some extremist Buddhist fringes promotes a strongly nationalist vision undermining social harmony between ethnic groups and striking, by means of a bill of law, religious minorities including Catholics and Muslims.
For these reasons today Fides dedicates a study to the political, social and religious situation of Sri Lanka, reaffirming the Catholic Church’s point of view which emerges from official church statements. A position in favour of authentic dialogue with the Buddhist world in the awareness of the primary necessity to uphold the dignity of the human person, and inalienable human rights, including freedom of conscience and religion. In her official interventions the Church has always stressed the importance of guaranteeing individual freedom of decision and conscience to change religious belief without requiring the permission of civil authorities.
On the other hand since it has members, bishops, clergy and faithful, in communities of ethnic both groups Sinhalese and Tamil the Church in Sri Lanka has always acted as a bridge and it is determined to continue this service promoting programmes of social reconciliation in particular among young people in schools and other centres to educate the new generations and enable them to give a free and peaceful vote to the country in the third millennium.
As background information to this study on the last page you will find a list of links to pertinent articles stored in Fides Archives. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 10/7/2004 lines 32 words 336)