Sri Lankan monks, bishops propose religious councils

Nationwide efforts needed to help with the process of reconciliation
Sri Lankan monks, bishops propose religious councils

Religious leaders at the Congress of Religions at the Maha Bodhi Society in Colombo on March 10. They discussed a network of religious councils to help the process of reconciliation. ( photo)

Top religious leaders in Sri Lanka have suggested ways to improve national unity and reconciliation ahead of a proposed new constitution.

Venerable Bellanwila Wimalarathana Nayaka Thero, a Buddhist monk, said all religious should work together to promote harmony while the new constitution sows the seeds of unity in the political sphere.

"It is not the politicians but us who are close to the people so religious leaders should be given a more prominent place in the reconciliation process," he said at the Congress of Religions at the Maha Bodhi Society in Colombo on March 10.

"I propose a mechanism of religious councils to be set up at the divisional, district and national levels to promote national unity and reconciliation," he said.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, addressing the council, said religious leaders must focus on helping the people in the Tamil-dominated north and east, who have suffered a lot.

The 30-year civil war that ended in 2009 was fought between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils.

Retired Anglican Bishop Dulip de Chikera said that an improved criminal justice system would also increase peace.

Mano Ganeshan, Minister of National Co-existence and National Languages welcomed the initiative to form religious councils and said he would submit the proposal to the cabinet.

The government will present the new constitution to parliament this year but the minister said they were still drafting the constitution and were not yet finished.

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