Fr Cyril Fernando defends Cardinal’s controversial comment
ECONOMYNEXT – Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith’s scathing remarks on former President Maithripala Sirisena last Sunday (04) were not intended to be a personal or political attack on anyone, Father Cyril Gamini Fernando said.
“The Cardinal had no intention whatsoever of attacking anyone politically. We see the Easter bombings as a national tragedy. The attack posed a serious threat to national security – a threat that continues to linger,” Fr Fernando said.
“The government must fully cooperate in [concluding investigations into the bombings]. From the opposition, we would like to ask not to bring in party politics into it,” he added.
The prominent Catholic priest was ostensibly commenting on the mixed reactions to the Cardinal’s controversial statement. Speaking to reporters outside St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade following the Easter Sunday service, a visibly irate Cardinal was harshly critical of the former president and his failure to prevent the 2019 Easter bombings.
“There is speculation that our former president is going to contest in elections. I’d like to know if he’s fully clothed when he says this. There is no need to delay legal action against him,” the Archbishop said.
Ranjith’s unusually vitriolic statement was not to the liking of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) General Secretary MP Dayasiri Jayasekara who said on Monday (05) that there was a lot of politics behind the former’s words.
“Nobody has convicted the former president. The [presidential commission of inquiry (PCoI) report] has merely recommended that the Attorney General’s department consider the possibility of a case being filed against him,” Jaysekara told reporters.
“I’m sorry that [the Cardinal] has not understood this correctly. In our country, a person is innocent until proven guilty,” he added.
The PCoI, in fact, recommended that criminal proceedings be instituted against Sirisena and a number of others. The PCoI noted that he had departed to to India and Singapore in the days preceding the deadly April 21 attack without appointing an acting Minister of Defence despite possessing knowledge of a possible threat from the perpetrators.
Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, an SLFP-er, too said Ranjith should’ve chosen his words more carefully.
Former President Sirisena himself appeared somewhat stoic about it when approached by reporters earlier this week outside a meeting with SLFP union leaders. Appearing to laugh it off, Sirisena said: “I am very sorry about his eminence’s statement.” (Colombo/Apr09/2021)