by Anura Guruge
The pope’s latest instructions on making the Latin Mass even more accessible got me thinking as to what the situation was in Sri Lanka. Other than it being my country of birth, there are a number of factors that make the situation in Sri Lanka (née Ceylon) interesting — not least that the church there is headed by the Tanned Ratziner, a.k.a. Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don. Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country with Catholics spread across all races — with only a small percentage of Christians in total [i.e., ~8%. 69% Buddhist, 15% Hindu, 8% Muslim]. There used to be 3 Official Languages: English, Sinhalese and Tamil. Now there are only two: Sinhalese and Tamil, though many still understand English, even if they are hesitant to speak it. English is the second-language taught in schools. 60 years ago, thanks to the British influence, a small percentage of the elite would have known some Latin. Today, Latin might as well be Greek (or for that matter Polish).
This information courtesy of my friend Kenny L., a hands-on expert on these matters.
Kenny tells me:
As for mass, it depends based on the parish. If it’s heavily Tamil, then mass will be Tamil, Sinhalese, then likewise and the same applies to English.
However, The Cathedral (in Colombo) is a mixed parish, as much as it has its own Sinhala and Tamil services to cater to these groups, ALL major masses at which the Cardinal [i.e., Tanned Ratzinger] presides, the main liturgy will be English, with no sub texts in either of the other languages on the liturgy. However, the 1st and 2nd reading will be in Tamil/Sinhala with the appropriate hymns in these languages + prayers of the faithful. The Cardinal in fact will give his homily in all three languages.
As for usus antiquior, nothing major so far, but the Cardinal have repeatedly expressed interest to celebrate mass in them. But the surroundings has not yet been conducive.
Trust this answers.