UCA News
Sri Lanka in turmoil as president flees nation amid mass protests

Sri Lanka’s debt-laden economy has collapsed, its president on the run and the island nation is now on the verge of political instability.

Published: July 15, 2022 11:28 AM GMT

Updated: July 15, 2022 11:54 AM GMT

Amid a worsening political and economic crisis in Sri Lanka, violence erupted in capital Colombo on Tuesday after former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed Acting-President and immediately announced a State of Emergency and a curfew.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters had marched on the Presidential Palace last weekend. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country to the Maldives but yet to resign. Instead, he asked the Speaker of the Parliament to appoint Wickremesinghe in his absence, angering demonstrators.

Thousands of protesters defied the 24-hour curfew, spilled onto the streets, and surrounded government offices. At least one person died and another 126 were hospitalized after military opened fire with tear gas on protestors who attempted to breach a security cordon around the palace.

Sri Lankan politicians are in talks to form an all-party government to end the stalemate. The Catholic Church has appealed for calm “to avoid a disaster” as opposition parties called on Wickremesinghe to stand down.

Protesters take to the streets of Colombo after a state of emergency was declared and a curfew imposed

Protesters take to the streets of Colombo after a state of emergency was declared and a curfew imposed. (Photo: UCA News)

The Pontificate: Contribute to help UCA News

The suspected assassin of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he targeted the slain politician for his association with the South Korea-based Unification Church.

The 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami told the investigators that he learned about the former prime minister’s association with the religious group from an online video posted by the group last September.

Tetsuya Yamagami (right), the man accused of murdering former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is escorted by police while leaving the Nara Nishi police station to head to the prosecutor's office in Nara on July 10. (Photo: Jiji Press/AFP)

The Japanese branch of the church has denied Abe was a member of the church. Yamagami shot Abe twice using a homemade gun during an election campaign at a train station in Nara city, last Friday.

Abe died shortly after he was rushed to a local hospital. Police said his assailant claimed he did not attack Abe for any political motive and his initial plan was to target an executive of the religious group. 

The University of Santo Tomasin in the Philippines has warned people not to be influenced by alleged promotion of an apparition of the Virgin Mary that the Church does not recognize.

In a statement last Sunday, the Dominican-run University also reprimanded Dominican priest and teacher, Father Roland Mactal, for printing novena booklets that promote “unauthentic” miracles attributed to the so-called Marian apparitions at Lipa city in Batangas province, south of Manila.

The Marian apparitions at Lipa city in Batangas province of Philippines in 1948 are not recognized by the Church. (Archdiocese of Lipa)

The university said the priest’s novena violated pastoral guidelines on the matter issued by Filipino Catholic bishops. In 1948, a Filipina nun Teresita Castillo from a Carmelite monastery in Lipa city claimed she experienced Marian apparitions a several times.

In 2015, the Vatican ruled that the apparitions including the visions of Castillo were inauthentic and were not of divine or supernatural origin.

India’s Supreme Court has delayed the hearing of a petition seeking protection of Christians and investigations into rising attacks on the community and their institutions across the country.

The bench adjourned the hearing to a later date on Monday, citing that the documents related to the plea were not circulated among the parties to the case.

Indian Catholics pray at the yearly feast of Christ the King in New Delhi on Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/ucanews.com)

On June 27, the petitioners including Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore, the National Solidarity Forum and the Evangelical Fellowship of India pleaded the court to urgently list the matter of violent attacks against Christians and their institutions. The petition noted that on average 45 to 50 anti-Christian attacks are reported in the country every month.

The sharp rise in violence against Christians comes despite the Supreme Court’s guidelines for the federal and provincial governments to prevent the increasing number of hate crimes, including mob violence and lynchings targeting religious minorities. 

A Catholic lawyer in Indonesia has called for stricter action against child abusers as the country reported rising cases of sexual violence against children in recent times.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan said that judges must sentence child abusers to life imprisonment and appealed Catholics to file police reports if they know of any cases of sexual violence against children.

A vigil against child sexual abuse that was held in West Manggarai district of Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province in 2018. (Photo supplied)

His reactions came after police in Magelang District said a 31-year-old Quran teacher was arrested on Tuesday on a charge of raping at least four girls at his home in Central Java province.

The unnamed teacher was arrested after the family of a victim filed a police report. Investigators said the accused committed the crime over a period of six months since last December and one of the victims is now pregnant. 

The International Court of Justice said it would deliver its judgment on Myanmar military junta’s objections in the Rohingya genocide case on July 22.

Mission In Asia: Contribute to help UCA News

The Myanmar delegation argued the UN court has no jurisdiction over the case and must throw it out before it moves on to substantive hearings. The ICJ said the hearings over the application would take place in The Hague when the decision will be read out by its president.

Rohingya refugees stage a 'Go home campaign' rally demanding repatriation to at Kutupalong Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar on June 19, 2022. (Photo:AFP)

African nation, Gambia, filed the genocide lawsuit against Myanmar accusing the nation of breaching the UN Genocide Convention. It is one of the major attempts to prosecute the nation’s leadership for the 2017 genocidal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims that forced more than 740,000 to flee the country.

The court earlier said it has found primary evidence of Myanmar’s breaching of the Genocide Convention. 

The Society of the Divine Word in Vietnam has dismissed a member priest for his association with lay group exorcists banned by Catholic bishops. The order’s Vietnam Province confirmed the dismissal of Father Martine Mai Anh Tuan in a notice on Tuesday.

Father Anh Tuan had been a missionary in Taiwan following his ordination in 2009. He was dismissed in 2021, but continued to work in Taiwan as a lay missionary. The priest’s dismissal came after his involvement with the banned exorcist group was proved.

Father Martine Mai Anh Tuan talks with Teresa Nguyen Thi Thuong in 2018 in a video clip posted by Exorcise The Demons. (Photo supplied)

The group based at Da Lat diocese in Lam Dong province allegedly believe they have received divine powers for exorcism.

Bishop Dominic Nguyen Van Manh of Da Lat banned the group in 2020 and excommunicated its 47-year-old leader and mother of four, Teresa Nguyen Thi Thuong, from attending church services and receiving the sacraments. At least two priests and some religious have been dismissed for joining the banned group that stared operating in 2015.

An interfaith organization in Timor-Leste has urged that the government should formulate special rules to preserve sacred places and promote religious tourism in the country. The Timor-Leste Religious Tourism Association said religious sites should be well-maintained to serve the emerging tourism industry.

Currently, the Catholic-majority nation has no binding regulations for religious tourism sites such as what is allowed and prohibited as well as the responsibility for maintenance.

The 27-meter statue of Cristo Rei (Christ the King) on Cap Fatucama is a striking Dili landmark. (Photo: Timorleste.tl)

Such regulations should come in handy as the country seeks to diversify its economy and reduce dependency on petroleum, which accounts for 80 percent of annual national income.

Promotion of tourism is a major priority and the government aims to earn about 150 million US dollars in revenue from the tourism sector by 2030.

A top Church leader in South Korea has criticized the country’s existing policy of legalizing abortion and called on lawmakers to engage in meaningful dialogue for change after the US Supreme Court overturned a pro-abortion ruling.

Bishop Linus Lee Seong-hyo, the chairman of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Life insisted that the US ruling is a clarion call for the nation to change its abortion policy. The prelate said the fetus never violates a woman’s right to self-determination and no one should invade the dignity of life through any ideology.

Bishop Linus Lee Seong-hyo says the Church emphasizes 'sacredness and dignity of human life' and resolutely opposes abortion no matter what age the fetus is. (Photo: CPBC)

The Constitutional Court of South Koreain 2019 ruled that ban on abortion was illegal, prompting the government to decriminalize abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy last year.In addition, abortions would be permitted up to the 24th week in cases of pregnancies from rape.

Since the court order, the country has seen a rise in abortion cases. There were an estimated 32,000 abortions in 2020, compared to 4,800 in 2017.

Explore UCA News

UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia