by Anura Guruge
Related posts (click to access):
† Francis must apologize …
Θ Extremist Buddhist violence … Θ Appeal to all Buddhists
Θ Pope Francis should pray … Θ Curbing the Extremists
+ Buddhism & prayer + 2nd largest religion
+ ‘Poson’ in June + 2014 Vesak greeting
+ Happy Vesak 2014 + Vesak 2014 Pandols
†††† Search ‘pope‘ for a TON of posts about Pope Francis and other popes >>>>
This will not be the first time a pope has visited 70% Buddhist Sri Lanka (née Ceylon). It won’t even been the second time. It will actually be the THIRD papal visit!
Paul VI (#263) made, quite literally, a flying visit in December 1970 and John Paul II (#265) visited in January 1995.
But that was then and this is now.
The Roman Catholics make up (roughly) 6.1% of the island’s 20 million (or so) population. Christinas in total account for just about 7.5% of the population. 70% are Buddhists, ~13% Hindu and ~10% Islam.
Until quite recently a papal visit to Sri Lanka would not have been an issue in the slightest. It was a country, as I have repeatedly written about here, noted for its religious tolerance.
But things have taken a very nasty turn in the last few months with these crazy, radical, nationalistic Buddhists. Please refer to the links above. They are already calling for Francis to apologize for the Portuguese of Ceylon 400 years ago!
I do not worry for the pope’s safety for multiple reasons. For a start he has unique protection from above and I am sure that the Sri Lankan security forces, who have a LOT of experience in safeguarding VIPs, will make 100% sure that the pope is safe. It is the third reason that worries me. The pope will be safe because any violence will be directed at Sri Lankans! You know that adage about communal violence when it comes to matters nationalistic or religious. They only kill their brothers.
So here is another amazing and ironic twist to Sri Lanka’s baffling nationalistic woes. The current president, a rabid nationalistic Buddhist (who I think (and I may be wrong) has stirred up much of the current extremist Buddhist fervor) is married to a very devout, practicing Catholic! The president, for all of his Buddhist supremacy rhetoric, is very pro-Catholic and very fond of pressing the flesh with Catholic prelates. For heaven’s sake he even dresses like a pope with a red stole!
It is the rabid, radical, extremist Buddhists that worry me. The pope coming to Sri Lanka will serve as a RALLYING POINT for them. A definable event. Red meat to a rabble that will claim to be mainly vegetarian though they will have no compunction against mindless violence. So this is just a heads up. This might not the the wisest thing to do. The pope better start praying for the SAFETY of the Sri Lankan Catholics. I haven’t had a chance to check of late, given that I have been crazy busy, but I trust that his peace for the Middle East, Iraq etc. have worked. So at least the Sri Lankan Catholics, and I know a few of them, including the retired Archbishop of Colombo, will be safe.