Destabilising religion, demeaning spiritual and cultural values
In the past it was the Catholic belief that Christianity was the only
true and revealed religion and all the other faiths were pagan and
The Catholic Church adopted a policy to convert people to
Christianity at any cost and it persecuted non-Christians. In the year
2000, Pope John Paul II, publicly apologised for the misdeeds committed
by Church in the name of religion.
The Vatican Council II (1962-65) reversed attitude of the Catholic
Church towards other religions. It directed that Catholics should
acknowledge the Truth inherent in them and the values in their society
and culture. Nevertheless it did not give a licence to sacrifice the
By the Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, the Vatican
Council II, itself renewed the call for evangelisation. In fact the
Catholic Church is looking for ways and means to convert people of Asia
to Christianity in the 21st century as the Catholic faith is not so
prevalent in the region.
The Church is a place consecrated to God
The Catholic Church still believes that God has made Christ as the
one mediator and she herself has been established as the universal
sacrament of salvation. (Redemptoris Missio - 9)
In an article titled ‘The Saintliness of Buddha’ written by a
Catholic priest that appeared in the ‘Catholic Messenger’ on May 7,
2006, it is emphasised that the Catholic Church at one time has
considered the Buddha as a Saint called St. Josaphat.
He also extols that the Medieval Church has treated the Buddha as a
Saint, because his renunciation of the royal household was an exemplary
The Buddha denied an omnipotent God, the creation and a soul. It is a
wonder how such a personality could ever have been considered a Saint by
the Catholic Church and for that matter how a Catholic priest who has
faith in an almighty God could endorse it by drawing a parallel between
Buddhism and Christianity. It is not only an insult to almighty God but
also an insult to the Buddha as it makes him subservient to a God!
It is revealed in the 2006 Vesak issue of the ‘Dhamsara’ journal, the
methods adopted by some Catholic circles to make in-roads into Buddhism
as disclosed in the book ‘Catholic Plot Against Buddhism’ published in
Thailand. Catholic priests learning Buddhism even better than the
Buddhist Bhikkus, equating God to Buddhist concept of Dhamma, giving a
Catholic outlook to Buddhist meditation and a Catholic colouring to
national festivals are some of them.
Similar devices are being adopted by some Catholic clergy in Sri
Lanka as well. There are some Catholic priests who are funded by foreign
agencies, who used to place the picture of Christ on one side and that
of the Buddha on the other advocating Buddhism and Christianity which
are poles apart as parallel religions.
There are others who introduce Buddhist rituals to churches in
festivals like Vesak. There are also some Catholic priests who suggest
to celebrate Sinhala and Tamil New Year and Easter together so as to
give a Catholic colouring to the New Year festival.
It is one thing for people of different faiths to work together for
the common good while maintaining their religious identity. We Catholics
could extend our goodwill for religious activities of the adherents of
other religions. Catholics organising Vesak Dansalas in church premises
could be appreciated. But we ought to know where to draw the line.
One year the Buddha walking on Lotus flowers at his birth was
depicted in the premises of a Catholic Church. In another year a
Buddhist Bhikku preached Bana for Vesak in a church.
The following year a statue of the Buddha was placed in the same
church premises and a pandal was erected for Vesak. In another year it
was reported that there was a Bhakthi Gee recital in that church
premises. In some churches Vesak lanterns are hung and illuminated.
The Church is a place consecrated to God. There is Hol Eucharist in
the church and we Catholics believe that God is present there. According
to Buddhism the Buddha is not a God but an enlightened human being.
Adoring a human being in churches would amount to sacrilege from the
Christian point of view and a big joke as well. Recently celebrating
Vesak in churches was criticised in a popular column in a Sunday Sinhala
This type of deception would demean Christianity and arouse the
suspicion of intelligent Buddhists. It would confuse the young Catholics
in their formative years and would mislead the ignorant.
Another Catholic priest has stated thus to a Sinhala Sunday journal.
“In ten years to come, people would not be divided as Buddhists,
Christians Muslims and Hindus. All could go to Sri Maha Bodhi, Nallur
Temple, Tewatta Church and meditate. Spirituality would take the place
of religions.” (Lakbima Irida Sangrahaya May 16, 2004). This sounds a
hidden agenda. If this were to happen, it would be the downfall of all
the religions, specially Buddhism, the religion of about 70 per cent in
The veteran writer and social analyst W.A. Abeysinghe has remarked
that the designs of some NGO’s to mix up religions and create a
hotchpotch would lead to the destruction of Buddhism. That would lead to
the destruction of Christianity as well. In fact some of the Maha Sangha
who have been vociferous in protecting the religion, spiritual values
and our culture has been silenced by drawing them to various
Another Buddhist writer vividly portrays a conspiracy against
Buddhism. “Some Church sects under the pretext of Seminars take our
young men and women - even some Maha Sangha to foreign lands to lead
They are provided with sumptuous meals and whisky, dollar notes
emanating fragrance and friendship of both males and females. Once you
attend them - with all the inducements, who is the soul who would resist
the invitation for the next trip?” (Dr. Harischandra Wijayatunga; Mara
Sengage Saha Devadattayange Weda (2003) page 22)
There are some foreign agencies that drill the Western concepts of
morality to the minds of people. They propagate ideas that lead to
sexual promiscuity. They encourage homosexuality, lesbianism, free sex
and obscene cinema.
Although the people in the West are advanced in science and
technology, they are not serious about religion. In Europe most of them
are nominal Christians. In Catholic countries in the West Only 10 per
cent seem to practice the religion and churches are empty even on
Sundays. However they spend lavishly to propagate Christianity because
that in one way of keeping people loyal to the West.
Besides morality is at a very low ebb in Europe. Although
Christianity insists on a monogamous marriage, you get more divorces in
the Christian West than in this region. In Europe married couples living
in adultery is not taken seriously and family ties are at loose. The
moral standards in the West have come down to such a low level that even
in some Catholic countries you get swimming pools where both men and
women together step in to them fully naked.
In Sri Lanka the morality is not so degenerated as in Europe because
spirituality is ingrained in the lives of people. Adultery is shunned
and looked down upon in our country. As a result there is more stability
in family life. Even among the Catholics in our country moral standards
have not so deteriorated to such a low level as those in the West. This
is because the religion is more earnestly practised here in accordance
with the cultural milieu in this region.
In these circumstances it is time for the Catholic hierarchy in Sri
Lanka to put an end to various gimmicks that demean the religion. The
adherents of other religions too, specially the Buddhists should guard
against various agencies who with friendly overtones try to destabilise
(The writer is a former High Court Judge and Vice-President of the
Newman Society Alumni Association)