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FeaturesNewsSunday 3rd February 2013 ( Day before the independence day) be observed as a Day of Lament – Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey

Sunday 3rd February 2013 ( Day before the independence day) be observed as a Day of Lament – Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey

by
Bishop of Colombo

Climate of fear and helplessness- Bishop of Colombo
 ‘The numerous warnings that the Church, other  religious organizations and  civil  society bodies  repeatedly issued  have  been  ignored  and there is currently a climate of  fear  and  helplessness, where   people  remain silent  rather than speak  out against rampant injustice. intimidation, violence and falsehoods ‘ says The Rt. Revd  Dhiloraj Canagasabey.

This is stated by the Bishop of Colombo, in his Pastoral Letter of January 18, 2013.

The bishop states that it was with a heavy heart he was writing this pastoral  letter  to  his diocese  at the approach of  the  65th anniversary of  our  national independence,’ the  reason  being  that  in the  past  few  days  we  have seen  the  complete collapse of  the  rule  of  law  in our  nation. We no  longer  appear to  be a constitutional democracy’.

The rule of law means that  we  as  a  nation  are  governed by a system   of  laws  to  which  the  lawmakers themselves are  subject. This is a  way  of  ensuring that  power   is  not  concentrated in the  hands  of  one person  (or group  of persons) and  exercised arbitrarily.

The breakdown of such accountability is a process that  has  been  building up for  the  past  several years.

 It 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”

 Full text of the Pastoral Letter is as follows:
 
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I   write this  pastoral   letter  to  you  as  your  Bishop as  we  approach the  65th anniversary of  our  national independence. It is with a heavy heart  that  I  write  it, the  reason  being  that  in the  past  few  days  we  have seen  the  complete collapse of  the  rule  of  law  in our  nation. We no  longer  appear to  be a constitutional democracy.

The rule of law  means that  we  as  a  nation  are  governed by a system   of  laws  to  which  the  lawmakers themselves are  subject. This is  a  way  of  ensuring that  power   is  not  concentrated in the  hands  of  one person  (or group  of persons) and  exercised arbitrarily. The breakdown of such accountability is a process that  has  been  building up for  the  past  several years.  It 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 numerous warnings that the Church,, other  religious organizations and  civil  society bodies  repeatedly issued  have  been  ignored . There is currently a climate of  fear  and  helplessness, where   people  remain silent  rather than speak  out against rampant injustice. intimidation, violence and falsehoods.

We as a Christian Church cannot remain silent in this situation. Such silence will  be dishonouring to our Lord  and  a  betrayal   of  our   identity   as  His  people.  I   wish  to  remind   you  that  right  from  the  day  of Pentecost, the Church has learnt  to say that  ‘Jesus is Lord  and  not Caesar’. Often this has led to suffering and persecution. The  Church must always be prepared for this eventuality.

There  are many examples in the  Bible  and Christian history  of persons who  have  refused  to follow  orders when  they  have contradicted God’s moral  law.   Even  in the Old  Testament, Kings were  expected to rule under  a law which  they  themselves did  not make  and  to which  they  were  accountable (Deuteronomy 18: Psalms  72, etc.).  Where  rulers  violated  the  law,  God  challenged them  through prophetic men and  women chosen  and  sent  by  him.  The Church is called   to be such a  prophetic presence and  voice   in our  local communities, our places  of work,  our schools and  in the wider  society

• 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 collectivel,  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

•   consciously received benefits for ourselves through acts of injustice committed  against others

I,   as  your  Bishop, 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” (Micah 6:8).

I,  therefore propose that

(a) Sunday 3rd February 2013 be observed in all parishes within our  Diocese 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. Please encourage all parishioners to wear white and to fast wherever possible.

(b) We  as a diocese will  congregate on  4th  February 2013 at 9am,  dressed in white, for a service to continue our Time  of Lament. Those who are unable to be present at the Cathedral for this service are encouraged to gather in their  own  churches at this time.

c)  I  further propose that  all  parishes in our  Diocese have  a series of  Bible  studies,  reflections and discussions during Lent,  which is traditionally a period  of self-examination and  penitence, to reflect on what  it means  to live as a faithful disciple-community of Jesus  in the context of our  nation  today.

I  thank  God  for the  calling he has given  us to  be faithful to Him.  When  others may  be controlled  by fear  and  helplessness, we  must  remember that  our  Lord  who  was  crucified and  suffered death  was raised  to new life offering hope  to all.

In the  words  of St.  Paul, “Therefore my brethren  stand firm and immovable,  and work for the Lord always; work without limit since you know that in the Lord, your labour cannot be in vain”(I  Corinthians 15:58)

With  Prayers  and Christian Greetings’

The Rt. Revd  Dhiloraj Canagasabey

Bishop of Colombo

18th   January 2013

Courtesy – Sri Lanka Mirror

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