EXCLUSIVE: Can God be blamed for the deaths of hundreds of Christians in Sri Lanka one year ago? Or for the mass murders of 9-11? Or for the Corona Virus death toll? A top Catholic cardinal gives us his interpretation.20 April 2020
Archbishop Malcom Ranjith Patabendighe was speaking exclusively to correspondent.world on the anniversary of the worst mass-killings of 2019 – when nine suicide bombers who swore allegiance to the Islamic State killed themselves and 259 innocent people across the island of Sri Lanka. (In just one church, 115 worshippers died.)
Instead, the cardinal said we should look to ways of “sensitising” humans to the needs and feelings of their fellow-human beings.
He also said injustices and inequalities in the world should be addressed to reduce the propensity to violence. And he said it was time to heal the world’s “terrible divisions”.
Here’s a transcript of the key parts of this intriguing interview.
Can God be held responsible for the killing of hundreds of your congregants? Or indeed for the deaths of innocents around the world?
There is a propensity to blame God for everything that has happened. Sometimes these things are caused by human evil.
It is the basic divisions that are there in human beings that cause this kind of terrible disaster.
We cannot attribute everything that happens to God and then just try to find a scapegoat.
It is very unfortunate and very sad that such situations happen, but this shows it is not a question only of faith but of human evils – human beings make life miserable for other human beings.
It’s a way of interpreting, and most of these situations are political in nature. There is no religion in thiese matters: people are vying for political power or to control the world in one way or the other, or their own countries one way or the other.
There is a huge underground. On the one side, we have a huge production market for arms, all kinds of sophisticated weapons, sophisticated devices to destroy human life are being continuously produced all over the world. And then you have to market these things, and therefore there is a need to create conflict. That kind of conflict creation continually takes place.
After World War II there have been all kinds of vicarious wars taking place in all kinds of places. Strangely enough, some of these wars are settled down after a time, and a new war is begun somewhere else.
This all part of some international evil plot that has been going on. Who the authors of this plot are, no-one knows.
Can we blame Muslims or extreme Muslims for the violence that beset your country a year ago – or is affecting the world?
We don’t know who is behind what.
Take the 9-11 attack. There were underhand dealings of certain countries of which we are not sure.
The reactions of some extremist groups can be understood. To find a peaceful world for tomorrow, I don’t think Islam can be termed a religion of terrorism. We don’t know who is behind what.
Re 9-11, that man behind that attack was produced by another big nation who gave him money and support to fight another nation. So (nations can) create monsters…
Can praying to God be the solution to getting rid of the virus and its effects, or is it just superstition?
Praying is a thing where we try to sensitise the human person and his heart, to give up the divisive attitudes that can create these kinds of problems, and be sensitive to other people. Religion and faith his to open you up to your neighbours and challenges you to feelings of justice and fair play.
Certainly therefore religion has certainly a role to play. But at the same time, nations and people who have money need to get together as to how to build a better world, and bonds of love and affection. Without pitting one person against another.
Greed and concentration of power and money in the hands of a few is always a problem, and it is not necessarily caused by religion.