ARCHBISHOP MALCOLM RANJITH has been named the second Sri Lankan cardinal in the country’s history.

The Colombo prelate was among 24 new cardinals announced by Pope Benedict XVI Oct 20. He is the only one of the group to come from Asia and will formally be appointed at a conference in the Vatican Nov 20-21.

“This is a very historic moment for us,” said Fr Cyril Gamini, Episcopal Vicar for southern region in the archdiocese of Colombo. “Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith was made cardinal because of his great service to the Church in Sri Lanka and also to the international Church.”

“It is a grace for our country because he is the only Asian,” said Fr Nihal Nanayakkara, vicar general of the southern diocese of Galle.

Lay people also welcomed the appointment.

“He is endowed with power, capacity and knowledge by God to speak for the downtrodden people, speak for powerless and for justice for all in this Buddhist majority country,” said Singarayar P Ratnarajah, 53, a Catholic accountant in Jaffna.
In an interview with in 2007 Archbishop Ranjith, then adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples gave his views on inculturation.

“Asia is generally considered to be the continent of contemplation, mysticism and deep seated spiritual outlook on life,” he said. “Any attempts at inculturation of the liturgy or of Christian life cannot bypass these profoundly mystical orientations typical of Asia.”

He also mentioned that Christianity is Asian in origin and it has an even profounder sense of mysticism within it that it can and wishes to share with others.

Archbishop Ranjith was born on Nov 15, 1947, and ordained a priest in 1975 at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo in 1991 and Bishop of Ratnapura in 1995.

He is fluent in languages such as Sinhala, English, Tamil, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Indonesian, Greek, Latin and Hebrew.

In 2001 the archbishop was made adjunct secretary at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples at the Vatican. He was also Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia and Timor Leste.

From 2005 to 2009 he was Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Archbishop of Colombo on June 16, 2009.  UCANEWS.COM

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