Sri Lanka Welcomes New Cardinal

Buddhist Notes Prelate’s Interreligious Efforts

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, NOV. 30, 2010 ( Catholics and Buddhists alike lined the streets of Colombo to welcome Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith as he returned from Rome and the Nov. 20 consistory where he became cardinal.

The prelate, who has been serving as archbishop of Colombo since last year, is Sri Lanka’s second cardinal. The first was Cardinal Thomas Benjamin Cooray, who died in 1988.

Thousands of people lined the streets to welcome the return of Cardinal Ranjith, UCANews reported Monday.

The report noted that the country’s prime minister, D. M. Jayaratne, stated, «All Sri Lankans are proud to have a new cardinal.»

Venerable Akurasse Chandrasiri Thero, a Buddhist monk among the crowds, said, «We are proud that Sri Lanka has produced an eminent person of this caliber to lead Catholics in this land.»

Venerable Kalupahana Piyaratana Thero, another Buddhist, the majority religion in that country, acknowledged that «Cardinal Ranjith has contributed to build interreligious harmony.»

A Catholic pastor, Father Basil Wicramasinghe, said, «I believe that Archbishop Ranjith became a cardinal because of his great service to poor families.»

The cardinal arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport and then went to the national basilica at Ragama for a prayer service. In the basilica, he asked the people, «Please pray for me to serve to the Church.»

A large Sri Lankan delegation was also present at the consistory in Rome to see their shepherd become a cardinal along with 23 other prelates.

Some 200 people, including 70 priests, six parliament members, and other religious and laity, attended the celebration.

At the same time, special prayer services were held across Sri Lanka to mark the day.

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