shall not live by bread alone"
American saying 'when the dirt hits the fan'
appropriately describes the situation created by the
Bishop of Ratnapura with reference to the GKCC swindle.
It was surprising to see the Bishop getting the wrong
end of the stick. This is the result when people without
giving thought to their actions, make a bigger mess of a
situation by trying to cover up their faults.
congratulate the Editor of The Sunday Leader on her
forthright, factual response to the outburst of the
Bishop. By this letter the Bishop has made an attempt
to distort facts and involve the leader of the UNP and
also drag in the state controlled media and the
President in the hope of weaving a web of controversy.
crux of the matter is that the Bishop has been led up
the garden path about the list publicised in the paper
during the past few weeks, after the Kotelawalas' master
plan to cheat the investors.
Kotelawala and his wife who have 'swindled' the
investors and not the Bishop! His hasty and supercilious
outburst has exasperated the situation and created a
platform for much controversy. Some of the outstanding
features are outlined in the letter of the Bishop
claiming, "My Diocese is in deep crisis, thanks to GKCC
claims that the 4897 families of his diocese live in
utter poverty they could not have contributed towards Rs.
40 million - it certainly would have taken a millennium
to do so! Factually, the Church Diocese is supported on
the contributions, usually called "tithes and offerings"
which usually amount to 10% of a believer's income.
Catholicism has come a long way in the world today due
to the fact it has been textured to meet the needs of
certain groups viz. Jehovah's Witnesses, Born-Again
Christians, Assembly of God, Protestants, Anglicans,
Charismatics and other sections, but it is a proven fact
that the Catholic Church is the "richest movement in the
Rome is an entirely independent nation with its own leader,
rules and regulations, buildings and police with its
head being the Pope. I don't want to make this matter a
controversy, but the fact is that in early Christian
history the workers and leaders did not need to make big
investments nor Benz cars and massive edifices to do the
'work of the Lord.'
very evident that the Bishop's letter is a very odious
method of trying to 'absolve' himself of his sins by
involving The Sunday Leader as the "unofficial journal
of the UNP" and the President and state controlled media
as cohorts thus obfuscating the issue. It was not only
the Catholic clergy alone but also Buddhist clergy who
had been swindled of their investments, but they have
been so discreet so as not to make a big brouhaha of the
bottom line being 'discretion is the better part of
valour,' I suggest to the Bishops concerned, just like
all the other investors - big and small - not to make
fools of themselves by trying to project a picture of
doom! All the investors, not only of the GKCC but also
many other investment swindlers of the past, grin and
bear the fruits of their greed!
investment companies that went underground several years
back have still not completely paid in full the dues to
their investors and these investors have not died of
starvation or sorrow, but have faced the fact that
'although the going was good,' the day of wrath had
come down on them.
would like to console the Bishop with a reference to the
Bible, Psalm 132 Verse 15 which states: "I will
abundantly bless her provision, I will satisfy her poor
Christian myself, it is such an embarrassment to note
the worldly ways of a part of Christianity which
embraces the principles of pecuniary investments. That
is indeed the reason I quoted the Bible in the heading
of this letter.
Expos‚ well within limits
Headlines catch the eye. Cleverly chosen, they reflect
the skills, erudition and imagination of the editor.
"Investors in robes" is apt and fitting, as a fair
number among the GK depositors are titled 'Reverend' and
their total deposits amount to a whopping sum.
monks have not been prudent. Some have pleaded lack of
knowledge in the banking business and some others had
even acted on friends' advice.
they not aware of previous scams reported in the media
and the Central Bank's repeated announcements cautioning
the public to be wary of high interest rates and
unregulated finance companies? Now feeling contrite,
they lament the many hardships confronting them. So
"Father forgive them" is yet another fitting title, as a
biblical phrase which resonated, as if Jesus Christ is
speaking again on behalf of his latter day shepherds.
are sacred and comment is free, is a well known maxim
guiding journalists. Barring deliberate distortion,
facts disclosed become unpleasant to some, and it cannot
be helped. Even the freedom to comment is not
unlimited. So The Sunday Leader reportage of the GK
fiasco as well is within the bounds of this maxim.
contents of the response to The Sunday Leader by the
Bishop of Ratnapura and his letter to the Leader of the
Opposition are both amusing and amazing.
Newspapers in democracies criticise their heads of state
and governments. True democracies welcome such
criticism even if it is done always. To call The Sunday
Leader, the unofficial journal of the UNP "for often
criticising the President and the government" is
mischievous, ludicrous and skewed reasoning in the
amazes one are the concluding paras of the two news
items already referred to. One ends "we only trust in
the providence of God" exudes a pious religiosity, while
the other, contrastingly, attempts to twist the arm of
the Leader of the Opposition to do the Bishop's biding
and also threatening to go to the state media in a
manner that would adversely affect the party.
the two contributions reveal a split personality - in
one, the biblical "Lamb of God" and in the other, a
mundane desire to play politics.
sensible Catholic would be offended by reading The
Sunday Leader expos‚s on the GK debacle; instead, most
Catholics would have many questions for the Church
Bishop's boorish behaviour
Bishop of Ratnapura is bringing more disrepute to the
Catholic Church by his letter to the editor demanding an
apology. His point is that he is not a swindler and that
the money is from the collections of his parishioners.
has the Bishop paid taxes on the interest income?
Withholding tax has not been deducted by Golden Key
Company. Did not Jesus ask that taxes due to Caesar
should be paid? The Bishop is also obliged to answer the
questions raised by the editor.
Councils were set up after Vatican II and a document was
issued by the hierarchy setting out the duties of the
Parish Council. Is it not obligatory for the Bishop and
the parish priests to disclose to the Parish Councils
the monies collected in a parish?
parish priests announce after the sermon the amount
collected during the previous week. But even they do not
disclose how the money was spent or how much was
invested. Why did not the Bishop set up a trust to deal
with the money instead of investing in his name?
Shouldn't there be transparency and accountability by
those who handle monies belonging to the Church? Doesn't
the Canon Law have anything to say about these matters?
Has the Bishop complied with the Canon Law or other
guidelines issued by the hierarchy in Rome about the
handling of monies of the Church?
Bishop and those priests who have invested monies in
their names with the Golden Key Credit Card Company have
tarnished the good name of the Catholic Church in Sri
Lanka. The Church has to be a credible witness to the
gospel and financial scandals as these will hurt the
credibility of the Church in its mission and also the
respect and standing it enjoys among our predominantly
Bishop by also seeking the support of Ranil to close the
mouth of the editor through unnecessary threats shows
that he is not a believer in the freedom of the media.
How can the faithful campaign for religious freedom,
when the Bishop is behaving in scant respect for the
freedom of expression?
Catholic laity may trust their priests and bishops but
there are examples where in other Catholic countries,
priests have misappropriated money belonging to the
A Follower Of Jesus Christ
Investors in robes...
Catholic Bishop of Ratnapura, Most Rev. Cletus
Chandrasiri Perera appears to be angry, offended, and in
a huff, because his name as an investor of Rs. 40
million with Golden Key appears in the depositors' list
published, without fear or favour, by The Sunday Leader.
Rev. Bishop is no ordinary priest in the Catholic Church
but a prince of the church, elected due to his high
scholarly attainments. So it is unpardonable when he
gambles with what he now says is diocese money,
attracted by abnormally high interest rates of over 30%
says Rs.40 million is 'blocked' but fails to mention,
conveniently, when the deposit was made. If one assumes
he had the deposit for say four years, the good Rev.
Bishop would have received a whopping Rs.48,000,000 as
interest payments alone during a four year period at the
rate of Rs. 12 million yearly. After taking extreme
risks, he can't be a crybaby now.
furious over the exposure, he could not discern the
difference in meaning between "swindlers list" and "list
of swindlers." As The Sunday Leader quite rightly
asserts, such large sums of money should be in the name
of the institution and not in the name of an individual,
as there can be dangerous repercussions for real owners
of the money. Theoretically, the custodian can hijack
the money one day, and the Catholic Church will be left
high and dry.
good Bishop tries to influence the Leader of the
Opposition to get The Sunday Leader to retract their
article and has coupled his request with a veiled threat
that his flock will be instructed to vote against the
UNP at the forthcoming Western Province elections unless
the Leader of the Opposition bends to his will. He is
under the grand delusion that the vestiges of the Holy
Roman Empire days are still alive and are at his
Furthermore, he will come a cropper if he invokes the
aid of what he calls the "state controlled" media. This
is a fact but it is not prudent for him to mention it
publicly in writing! In these matters he is a greenhorn.
Preserving Galle Fort
reference to the article appearing in The Sunday Leader
of April 19 under the heading "World heritage tampered
at will" written by Dilrukshi Handunnetti, this writer
wishes to make the following observations, which, I have
no doubt, you will give publicity to, observing your
policy of allowing freedom of expression to all shades
most relevant question is what we are trying to preserve
and for whose benefit. We are labouring somewhat
slavishly to preserve a site left behind by the Dutch
during nearly 150 years of forceful occupation of this
country, against the wishes of its people. The
irreparable damage caused to the places venerated by the
Buddhists, and to their culture during this illegal
occupation is beyond description in a short letter of
what responsible citizens and institutions of this
country should do is not to clamour for the preservation
of the Galle Fort, but to demand compensation from the
Dutch, for the irreparable damage caused by them during
their illegal occupation. Galle Fort is only an eternal
reminder to the citizens of this country of the damage
Australian Prime Minister had, last year, apologised to
the local aborigines for the irreparable loss/harm
caused to them by the previous governments. What is now
required therefore, is to call for a similar apology
from the Dutch, for all the damage caused by them to
Sri Lanka and its people.
so-called clamour to preserve the Galle Fort as Galle
Heritage, when in fact, it is Dutch heritage, is to say
the least, very deplorable and is an insult to everybody
who has some connection whatsoever with Galle.
insult is further aggravated by the fact that the Galle
Fort has been listed on par with four places of
invaluable interest to Buddhists.
Moreover, could anybody, institution or organisation
point a single World Heritage Site in any other country
in the entire world, where such site has been
constructed by an invading nation who have done
irreparable damage to the said country?
Perhaps, the local UN office or their head office could
enlighten the readers on this aspect. Perhaps, Sri Lanka
could enter the Guinness Book Of Records as the only
country in the entire world to glorify foreign invaders,
by preserving their leftovers for posterity!
not the development projects undertaken in the vicinity
of Galle Fort for the benefit of the people, students
and sportsmen of Galle and the surrounding areas, be
abandoned, owing to this unpatriotic desire to preserve
a legacy left behind by our invaders who have caused
irreparable damage beyond description to the social
fabric and places of religious interest of the country.
hoped that saner counsel would prevail in future, when
development projects are undertaken for the benefit of
the people in areas which are in close proximity to the
D. H. Gunadasa
Bishop should not blame the messenger
familiar with the diocese of Ratnapura since my
education began at the 'Convent on the Hill' under the
Irish mothers and later, until my father's transfer, at
St. Aloysius College whose principal was the Jesuit
Laudadio, later to become Bishop.
Fr. Laudadio made an indelible mark in my soul by giving
a flogging - 20 strokes with a rod on my 'behind,' for
using a 'Relief' nib, instead of the mandatory 'G' nib -
nibs manufactured by a factory in England then producing
million nibs a month now made bankrupt not by a Ponzi
scheme, but by the ball-point pen.
running the prosperous diocese of Ratnapura to the
ground by dabbing in a scheme, which a student with a
rudimentary knowledge of economics would not have
touched with a barge pole, the Rt. Rev. Doctor (honoris
causa) from Ratnapura in a blistering letter to the
Leader of the Opposition, obtained in the usual canny
way and published in The Sunday Leader of April 19, has
the impudence to blame the paper for exposing the
shenaningans, publishing his picture without his
permission as though it is protected by copyright,
calling the paper a stooge of a particular political
party and a desecrator of the cross.
anyone is to be blamed for desecrating the cross it is
the Bishop himself. Cardinal Pell of Sydney, Australia
after his ad limina visit to Rome told reporters that
the travails of the Catholic Church are the result of
the Roman Curia appointing incompetents as bishops.
Perhaps Huxley was not off his rocker when he asserted
that when he sees a surplice he feels like tearing the
gentleman underneath it with his teeth and nails.
In defence of Ranil
not surprised to learn that you too have joined the
bandwagon for 'Ranil's ouster' from the UNP leadership.
If you too believe that the present Leader of the
Opposition is a disaster of "Guinness Book proportions"
and whatever "Ranil touches turns to dust," then we know
where The Sunday Leader is heading.
check your facts on Ranil's record as a minister under
President JR's government as well as under President
Premadasa. He had silently achieved a lot without much
fanfare compared to all the 127 ministers put together
in the present regime. His contribution to the peace and
stability of the country during his stewardship as prime
minister in 2002 - 2004,˙not to mention economic revival
after a pathetic negative growth, was magnificent. So I
appeal to you to be more magnanimous in your editorial
me for saying this, but I notice your focus is shifting
more towards the Ceylinco Fiasco and Kotelawalas lately
and not on the bad governance record of the incumbent
rulers with rampant corruption and increasing incidence
of law and order breakdown.
trust you will not abandon our beloved Lasantha
Wickrematunge in the process!