Sri Lanka: Buddhists Prevent Celebration of Mass

Source: FSSPX News


Buddhist monks are putting pressure upon some 300 Catholic families of the parish of Kotugoda, some 15 km north of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. The fundamentalists have announced that if the Catholics stuck to their intention of building a church “they would lose 10 to 15 lives” a day.

The offending church was built in 2003, and work to enlarge it began on February 3, 2007. The Buddhists protested against the enlargement when Rev. Fr. Susith Silva, the Episcopal Vicar for the Northern Region of the Colombo diocese, came for a visit this past September 28.

The matter was brought before the tribunals. After hearing both sides, the judge decided to solve the dispute out of court by a temporary interruption of the construction work on the church while granting permission to celebrate religious offices, Sunday Masses and catechism classes. The police were also given orders to maintain peace in the area and to arrest anyone troubling religious services in the present church. In response to the lawyer defending the right of the 348 Buddhist families against the 297 Catholic families, the magistrate pointed out that even if there were only two Catholics, they would have the right to practice their faith. Indeed, Article 10 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka recognizes freedom of thought, of conscience, and of religion for all.

Fr. Susith Silva specified that there are exactly 301 families, namely 1093 Catholics, who attend the church. “Most of them are peasants who cannot afford a taxi to go every week to another church.” Catholics ask to be allowed to carry on their religious activities on the spot, something which upsets the local Buddhists.

Monk Uddammita Buddahsiri, in charge of the Buddhist temple, states that the majority of the local population is Buddhist and does not want to have a Catholic church. “We will not let them complete the construction. If they resume, the whole village will rise up against them,” he said. (Sources: Cipa/AsiaNews/ Archdiocese of Colombo)