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• Bishop of Ratnapura writes to The Leader and Leader of the Opposition

 (Inset) Ranil Wickremesinghe and
Most Revd. Cletus Chandrasiri Perera ishop of Ratnapura

For whom the bell tolls

Collapse of “Golden Key Credit Card Company” and the Publications in The Sunday Leader

7th April 2009 

Hon. Ranil Wickramasinghe

Leader of the U.N.P.

Leader of the Opposition

No. 2, Cambridge Terrace, Colombo 7.


Dear Sir,

Greetings for a Happy New Year

Colapse (sic) of “Golden Key Credit Card company and the Publications in the “Sunday Leader” and “Irudina”

It is no secret that the two weekly journals “Sunday Leader” and “Irudina” are “unofficial” U.N.P. journals, often critical of the present president and the government.

As a Bishop of the Catholic Church, I wish to bring to your kind notice the offensive conduct of these two journals in connection with the sad plight of the depositors of Golden Key Credit Card Company which colapsed.(sic)

As the Bishop of Ratnapura, I am one of the victims of the irresposible (sic) conduct of the two journals. What is most offensive is the malicious reference to us as “swindlers list”(“Sunday Leader” March 22, 2009) and the singular reference to the Catholic clergy as “investors in robes, Father forgive them,” publishing a picture, rediculing (sic) our Most Sacred Cross (“Sunday Leader,” March 15, 2009 “Irudina,” March 22 and 29, 2009). I consider this as a disparage­ment of our Christian Religion by the two journals by their irres­ponsible use of media freedom. No state media has ever had refered (sic) to any religion or clergy in such derogatory terms as “Sunday Leader” and “Irudina”, the journals, supported by the U.N.P.

On what grounds do they categorise us as “a Swindlers’ List” when they know nothing about how these monies were earned. Let them know that the monies under the names of Bishops and Heads of Institutions are not their personal assets, but belong to their respective Dioceses and Institutions, and are used for their needs.

I cannot but state that the two “unofficial” U.N.P. journals have maliciously offended the feelings of the desperate depositors, some of whom happen to be the Catholic clergy, who have been unfairly highlighted in the journals.

Hence I strongly urge you, Hon. Sir, as the leader of the U.N.P. and of the Opposition, to have the editors of the two journals make amends by accomplishing the following:

1. By making an apology to the Catholic Church and all the other  G.K. depositors for unfairly categorising them as “swindlers” and their assets as “black money”, and above all for insulting our Sacred Cross which is most precious to us, Christians. 2. Among the clergy I am the most offended person as Bishop of Ratnapura, as they maliciously published my picture without any reference to me. Hence I urge you to have the annexed statement published in the issues of “Sunday Leader” and “Irudina” on April 12 or 19, 2009. It should be published as written by me with no Change.

If these two items do not appear in the said journals on April 12 or 19, my priests and I will be compelled to make a statement, perhaps a stronger one, to the state controlled media. We are not to be blamed if such a statement will have adverse effects on the U.N.P. at the up-coming Western Provincial Council Election

I shall take up this issue at the forth-coming meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference to be held from April 20 to 23, 2009.

With kind regards

Yours sincerely


Bishop Cletus Chandrasiri Perera

Bishop of Ratnapura


“My Diocese is in deep crisis, thanks to Golden Key Company collapse”

With the unexpected colapse (sic) of the “Golden Key Credit Card Company” a few Catholic Dioceses and Institutions have their deposits blocked in the said Company. These are not the personal monies of the Bishops or the Heads of the Institutions. They are purely the common assets of their respective Dioceses or Institutions and are used for their day-to-day needs. They are not “black money” or “swindled” as some maliciously speculate. If they are “black money” or “swindled”, we challenge them to prove it with acceptable evidence.

My Diocese of Ratnapura has 40 million Rupees blocked in the G.K. Company. This money is not my personal money. It totally belongs to my Diocese. In fact, the greater part of it had been deposited before I took over the Diocese during the periods of my predecessors who in their far-sighted wisdom, wanted to establish a stable economy for the Diocese. They have to be thanked for it.

We need Rs 15 Lakhs (1.5 M.) just for one month to make ends meet in the day-to- running of the Diocese. The chief income to cover the expense of 15 Lakhs is the interest from our fixed deposits. We have no other regular income in the Diocese. When 40 Mn. is blocked with its accrued interest, we have lost a monthly income of Rs 8 Lakhs. That means that we have lost  more than half of our regular monthly income. We just cannot meet our monthly expenditure now. We are bankrupt. We are in deep crisis.

I have only 24,986 Catholics (4897 families) in my Diocese. About 75% of them live in utter poverty. Just a few families can make a substantial contribution to the Church. Therefore the income from the people is minimal. I have 22 parishes, 4 Diocesan Institutions, 33 priests and 20 major and minor seminaries to maintain. The vehicles of the Diocese have to be maintained. The medical needs of the priests have to be met. Allowances to the catechists have to be paid monthly. Wages to the employees have to be paid monthly. A few convents have to be financially supported. Expenses on many charitable projects have to be met. These are but a few of the expenditure, amounting to Rs.15 Lakhs a month. We only trust in the Providence of God.

Most Revd. Cletus Chandrasiri Perera

Bishop of Ratnapura

Editor’s Response

We have three questions for his Lordship Rt. Rev. Dr. Cletus Chandrasiri Perera, Bishop of Ratnapura...

1.  If your Lordship’s predecessor deposited this money why was it not in his name or in the name of the diocese?

2. How much interest per month did you receive as a result of this sum deposited in your name with Golden Key?

3. If as you state 75% of your parishioners are living in utter poverty how long did it take for the diocese to collect Rs 40 million?

Our title to the first copy on a series of articles on this issue tagged “Swindlers List” was with reference to Deshamanya Lalith Kotelawala, his wife Lady Dr. Sicille Kotelawala and the Golden Key Credit Card Co.  Needless to say “swindlers list” has a different meaning to “list of swindlers” in the English language.

Since the Bishop of Ratnapura made a conscious decision to deposit the said funds with Golden Key at an astronomical rate of interest, we owe neither him nor the Catholic Church an apology.

The Bishop was spoken to by the Editor on the phone before the said article was published but he refused to answer any questions.

We also wish to place on record that the Bishop attempted to use the good offices of Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in trying to influence the editorial content of this newspaper in relation to our references to him and the Catholic Church in our exposes on Golden Key.

A request to this effect from Mr. Wickremesinghe, which, we turned down was in upholding the highest standards of independent, unbiased, professional journalism. We fail to understand why his Lordship subsequently wrote to the Leader of the Opposition who has no interests in this newspaper, when he should have responded in the first instance on the phone with us.

We encourage the Bishop of Ratnapura to go ahead and make a “stronger” statement on this issue “to the state controlled media.” I trust that his Lordship would in that instance be writing through the President of Sri Lanka.

Frederica Jansz (Editor)









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