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Buddhist extremists oppose pope Francis’s visit to Sri Lanka

There is an strong extremist Buddhist faction in Sri Lanka that believes that non-Buddhists are second class citizens and this group is powerful enough that it can influence the government, yet another example of the terrible consequences when religions can influence the use of state power.

When an announcement was made that Pope Francis would visit Sri Lanka in early 2015, one of these groups decided to use the occasion to whip up anti-Catholic sentiment.

Once the news of Francis’ trip got round, movements of radical and ultranationalist Buddhist monks verbally attacked the Pope, setting a dangerous media propaganda campaign in motion. Vatican Insider learnt that a group of monks stormed a meeting that was organized by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, hurling violent insults and threats against participants.

These radical Buddhist groups – whose actions are fuelled by fervent nationalism coloured by faith and culture – have been targeting Muslims and also Christian Evangelicals and Pentecostals for some time now. These religious groups are seen as advocates of a strong religious proselytism. Now, these groups seem to be targeting Catholics as well. This has sparked concern among bishops, civil authorities, the Nunciature of Colombo and other European embassies ahead of the Pope’s visit.

There seems to be no major religion that does not show a very ugly side when it achieves a significant level of power over the government. They start demanding that public policy be based on their sectarian beliefs and impose it on everyone. It seems like religions preach peace, love, tolerance, and understanding only when they are in the minority and need the majority to practice those virtues so that they can survive.

Comments

  1. mnb0 says

    “They start demanding that public policy be based on their sectarian beliefs and impose it on everyone.”
    Of course. Organized religion is per definition political.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    How un-Serendip-itous for Francis…

    Vatican Insider learnt that a group of monks stormed a meeting that was organized by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, hurling violent insults and threats against participants.

    Given the exaggeration in which the Roman Catholic Church indulges whenever meeting the slightest resistance persecution, I suspect this means they (MOMI) had a couple of hecklers one time.

  3. Mano Singham says

    Pierce,

    I don’t think this is a exaggeration. These Buddhist extremists are notorious for their thuggish behavior.

  4. steffp says

    If I recall aright, then the distribution of Buddhist and Christian Sinhalese is pretty uneven, with most Christians concentrated North of Colombo, which, in some places, leads to Buddhist minorities – always a situation where tensions can be created and exploited. The problem with the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka is their tradition and history: Supporting every single act of colonialism since Antonio Francisco Xavier Alvares set foot on Ceylon is something Sinhalese nationalists won’t forget easily. Ever since independence (1948) have nationalists accused the RCC of being in close connection with whoever opposed them, be it “the British”, Tamil opposition or the LTTE. There is a certain tendency to interpret this as a divide along religious lines. But, as right-wingers all over the world are likely to do, the argument of “not a real Buddhist” is raising its tiny head quite often, a sure sign of to a sectarian background. see here
    On the other hand, the RCC has, in the immediate past (2011), regarding the aggressive proselyting of well-funded evangelical churches improper, proposed a Catholic/buddhist alliance and coordinated actions against those .
    People who live in glass houses.. should not throw stones, nor complain when others do.

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