Sri Lanka's Bishop Rayappu Joseph: A living hero

Biography describes the bishop's efforts to stand up for the rights of the Tamil people

Sri Lanka
September 5, 2016
A biography about the challenges faced by a Catholic bishop who played a major role in assisting Tamil people during Sri Lanka's civil war was launched Sept. 1.

Written by Oblate Father David Vincent Patrick the book — A Living Hero — tells the story retired Bishop Rayappu Joseph of Mannar, and his contributions towards creating a more just society.

Father Victor Soosai, vicar-general of Mannar, said Bishop Joseph helped safeguard the rights of marginalized Tamil communities.

"Bishop Joseph appeared on behalf of the people about war crimes, land grabs, forced disappearances and violation of rights experienced by the Tamil community," said Father Soosai during the book's launch at the auditorium of the Family Health Bureau of Mannar.

"He exposed this discrimination to the international community in order to get political solutions for the Tamil people," he said.

In the book's introduction Father Patrick described Bishop Joseph as fearless when it came to standing up for the rights of the Tamils, especially during the decades long civil war which ended in 2009.

During the conflict, the bishop was a vocal critic of the government and the military's conduct, which resulted in him being threatened by government supporters and some politicians.


Bishop Rayappu Joseph lighting an oil lamp during the launch of "A Living Hero". (Photo by Rosarian Lambart)

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