- Bishop of Colombo says Lanka no longer a constitutional democracy
- Bemoans collapse of rule of law; says Christians cannot be silent
Sounding a clarion call about the state of Sri Lanka’s democracy, Bishop of Colombo and Head of the Anglican Church Rt. Revd Dhiloraj Canagasabey has declared 3-4 February days of lament in all Anglican parishes to grieve the present state of the country that he says has suffered the complete collapse of the rule of law in recent days.
In a pastoral letter to his followers on 18 January, as the country prepares to celebrate the 65th anniversary of its independence, Rev. Canagasabey says Sri Lanka “no longer appears to be a constitutional democracy”.
Explaining that the Christian Church cannot be silent in such a situation, because such silence will be “dishonouring to our Lord,” the Bishop of Colombo calls on all his parishioners to observe Sunday 3 February 2013 as a Day of Lament.
“All services should have an extended time of silence, prayer and intercessions, to grieve over the state of our country today,” the letter said.
The Bishop also says the diocese will congregate at the Cathedral on Independence Day dressed in which for a service to continue their lament. Parishioners who cannot attend the service in the Cathedral have been asked to gather in their own churches at the same time.
Bishop Canagasabey says that rule of law means that a nation is governed by a system of laws to which the lawmakers themselves are subject. “The breakdown of such accountability is a process and has now climaxed in the recent events that have seen both the Executive and the Legislature disregarding the provisions of the very Constitution which they swore to uphold and defend, giving the appearance of a country ruled on the principle that ‘might is right,” the letter by the Bishop says.
Numerous warnings by the Church, other religious organisations and civil society have been ignored, he says.
“There is currently a climate of fear and helplessness, where people remain silent rather than speak out against rampant injustice, intimidation, violence and falsehoods.”
The Church is called to be a prophetic presence and voice in our local communities, Bishop Canagasabey says, because Biblical and Christian history is replete with examples of individuals who have refused to follow orders when they have contradicted God’s moral law.
“This is a time for us as a Church to take an honest look at ourselves, where we have shamelessly compromised our loyalty to God. We need to repent of ways in which we, as individuals as well as collectively, have been silent when, we should have spoken; allowed ourselves (thoughtlessly or out of fear) to be used by those in authority to speak lies or commit wrong and unjust acts or consciously received benefits for ourselves through acts of injustice committed against others,” the Bishop says in a passionate appeal to his parishioners.
“I call the Church to a period of lament together for the terrible state of our nation today, and repentance for our failing as a Church to “love mercy, to seek justice and to walk humbly with the Lord,” the Bishop says.