“Don’t stick political labels on me ” – Cardinal
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith is vehemently denying he is supporting a particular political formation or is a member of a political party, but is defending his right to talk about politics.
Addressing a press conference in Colombo today July 31, the Archbishop asked reporters not to “stick any political labels on me” and denounced Media organisations that do so.
“I don’t want to be used by various political parties to fulfill their ends,” he said.
The Cardinal was widely criticized for a sermon he delivered at St Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya one of the sites which were hit in the Easter attacks two Sundays ago.
He called the current leaders of the country “spineless” and asked them to “leave office.”
At today’s press conference he clarified this comment saying he only asked them to leave if they cannot fulfil their duties.
Asked for his reaction to President Maithripala Sirisena who appeared peeved by the “spineless” comment the Cardinal said, “I did not call him spineless but if he wants to wear it, he is welcome.”
He told the congregation that was made up of some people who were injured and many others who had lost loved ones that they were “coming to church today in wheelchairs because of this government.”
Confronted with the comment that he was using the pulpit for politics, the Cardinal replied saying he was “talking about the politics of our people. I am not taking sides, but I have to give voice to the political sentiments of our followers.”
The Cardinal was attacked by members of the United National Party in June after he was seen supporting Athureliye Rathana Thero when he was on a hunger strike in protest against Muslim Members of the Cabinet.
At that time Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the Cardinal was “fanning the flames of communalism and hatred by visiting this robed MP.”