by Anura Guruge
Last night, by accident (since there was nothing serendipitous about it), I came across this disturbing headline on a social networking site, with a spooky juxtapositioning:
This shocked me to the core. Our family has a long, distinguished history with orphanages in Ceylon. During all the time I can remember, when living in Ceylon, my mother was the Secretary (and I think sometime Treasurer) of a large girls orphanage in Colombo. I remember going there at least once a week. It was a large two-story building with the customary full-length ‘verandahs’, at the front, on both floors. I remember the girls, all dressed in white. They knew my mother and my mother knew them. From what I could see, they were happy. Then, sometime later, after I had left, my uncle, who was a doctor, Director of Health in Ceylon for decades, private physician to prime-ministers and presidents, fire walker of distinction and overall bon vivant par extraordinaire set up and ran a very successful private orphanage. I used to be so proud of that. He was quite a guy. I now realize that he volunteered all of us kids (including his 4 sons), as a nation, as guinea pigs for the sugar-cube polio vaccine. It was a big deal though (at least the kids) didn’t know that we were being experimented on. We had to wear our best whites and stand in line. There was media coverage. We lucked out. I have seen more cases of polio in this country than I have in Sri Lanka. Right now I have a 5-year old relative, a beautiful young girl, who was adopted from a Sri Lankan orphanage 4 years ago. So, when I see ‘Sri Lanka’, ‘orphanage’ and ‘police raid’, I sit up and take notice.
Well here are three links. Read about it, without me interjecting. Link 1 & Link 2. Yes, I know, many of you are already thinking religious persecution in yet another banana republic. Since most have never even heard of the country you can’t expect them to know about our famed democracy, the world’s FIRST female prime minister and enviable record for religious tolerance. In Sri Lanka, when it comes to religion, ‘pluralism’ isn’t a word that you just hear the pope intoning, it is an accepted, taken for granted, way of life. You will notice that the Cardinal from Sri Lanka, the Tanned Ratzinger, the bishop of the archdiocese question, has not uttered a word in protest.
Then we had the pope, Benedict XVI (#266), yesterday, Saturday, November 26, 2011, addressing, in Rome, bishops from New York state, led by Archbishop Dolan of New York (president of the U.S. bishops’ conference), who were in Rome for their ‘ad limina‘ visits.
After the initial greeting, this is what he had to say: ‘Our meetings are the first since my 2008 Pastoral Visit to your country, which was intended to encourage the Catholics of America in the wake of the scandal and disorientation caused by the sexual abuse crisis of recent decades. I wished to acknowledge personally the suffering inflicted on the victims and the honest efforts made both to ensure the safety of our children and to deal appropriately and transparently with allegations as they arise. It is my hope that the Church’s conscientious efforts to confront this reality will help the broader community to recognize the causes, true extent and devastating consequences of sexual abuse, and to respond effectively to this scourge which affects every level of society. By the same token, just as the Church is rightly held to exacting standards in this regard, all other institutions, without exception, should be held to the same standards.‘
Then, immediately, he drops the subject, like the hot potato it is, and starts to talk about the need for ‘new evangelization‘. Again, as with his speech, two days earlier, a non sequitur. No acknowledgement that the sex abuse crisis might have a lot to do with why folks are shying away from the church.
I had an e-mail from Fr. John this morning with his latest cardinalabili updates (which I will publish shortly). He thinks the pope is quite ill! I would tend to agree. Too many senior moments since this summer. But, I could, as ever, be wrong.