Cardinal condemns President’s attempt to link Catholic Church to AG service extension 

Tuesday, 11 June 2024 01:49 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith criticises President’s comments, calling them misleading and lacking genuine intent
  • Questions why discussions with Church, initiated by the Govt., being used to retain same Attorney General 
  • Accuses President of using Catholic Bishops to create facade of addressing Easter Sunday attack to gain votes
  • Expresses disappointment that invitation for discussions on Easter Sunday attacks was not made in good faith

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith


Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, has expressed strong criticism over the weekend against a recent statement made by President Ranil Wickremesinghe suggesting a link between the extension of the Attorney General’s tenure and the Catholic Church of Sri Lanka.

During the jubilee mass commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Minuwangoda Dewalapola Wadumulla Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, the Archbishop expressed his dismay over President Wickremesinghe’s comment that the Attorney General Sanjya Rajaratnam’s tenure was being extended to facilitate his appointment to a committee on the Easter Sunday attacks at the behest of the Catholic Church. 

Cardinal Ranjith labelled this explanation as misleading and questioned its validity. “When the Attorney General retires, another can be appointed. We do not care who the Attorney General is; our question is why these discussions are being used as an excuse to keep the same Attorney General,” he said.

He mentioned that several groups, in the run-up to the elections, had briefed the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCSL) on their proposed actions concerning the investigation and the CBCSL was pleased with their efforts. 

The Archbishop said while the Government recently expressed a willingness to discuss the issue, the President’s comments indicated a lack of genuine intent. “The current Government informed us they want to talk about it as well which pleased us. However when we came forward to engage in discussions, it was made clear the invitation was not made in good faith due to the comments made by the leader of our country,” he said, expressing disappointment.

He criticised the President’s attempt to implicate the CBCSL in the decision to extend the Attorney General’s tenure, calling it a “stupid statement” and an attempt to undermine the Bishops. “This misleading statement by the President is an attempt to put us, the bishops, in trouble. By saying this, we realised there is some underlying tactic,” Cardinal Ranjith remarked. He accused the President of using the Bishops to create a facade of addressing the Easter Sunday attack to gain votes ahead of elections.

“We do not have any issue with who is elected next or comes to power. But they must know 274 lives were lost, property destroyed, and the economy was attacked. We have the right to know why this attack was carried out,” the Archbishop stressed.

Cardinal Ranjith reiterated the Church’s determination to pursue the truth behind the Easter Sunday attack, despite criticisms. He emphasised the need for genuine investigations based on information received, aiming to provide closure to the victims’ families. Ranjith called for prayers and highlighted the non-political nature of their quest, emphasising the importance of understanding the attack’s motives, given its significant repercussions.

The Cardinal during the sermon also emphasised the CBCSL’s persistent demand for a transparent investigation into the Easter Sunday attacks. “274 unfortunate deaths, hidden secrets, and understanding the truth is our Christian responsibility,” he said.

“After Easter Sunday, we are sensitive to this, not for any gain. It is a major responsibility of clergy and bishops. We have no political choice; we do not say we belong to any party. It is up to the people to choose freely, but speaking up for injustice is our responsibility.”

He stressed the need for an investigation free from political interference, one that is visible and genuine, allowing no room for political parties to cover up their wrongdoings. Cardinal Ranjith reiterated, “That is why we continue to keep tabs on the Easter Sunday attack, as it is our responsibility. Our brothers and sisters, tourists, were killed in cold blood on that day. Three decades after the war, this was the most horrific terrorist attack.”

In addition to the Archbishop’s remarks, the CBCSL issued a statement recently clarifying their position regarding the extension of the Attorney General’s term. The CBCSL also denied any involvement in the decision and condemned the President’s insinuation that their approval was sought. The statement read, “Our attention has been drawn to news articles published in several newspapers and other social and electronic media during the first week of June 2024 regarding a purported statement by the President concerning an extension granted to the term of the current Attorney General.”

“These articles refer to an unfounded incident alleging that the Chairman of the CBCSL met with the President, resulting in the appointment of a three-member committee to discuss the Presidential Commission of Inquiry Report into the Easter Sunday attacks. The articles further claim that the Attorney General is performing a fundamental role in this committee to coordinate with the CBCSL on future steps regarding the investigations into the Easter Sunday attacks. They also state that Rajaratnam has been in constant dialogue with the CBCSL, which is completely false.”

“We categorically state that the CBCSL has absolutely nothing to do with the extension of the Attorney General’s term. The President’s reported intention to seek an extension by exploiting the Easter Sunday attacks and involving the CBCSL is wholly condemned,” the statement read.