The attention was drawn to a statement that the Cardinal is supposed to have made in a temple in the presence of a number of leading Buddhist monks. The papers reporting the statement said that the Cardinal, apparently supported the view that Buddhism must be given a pride of place in the country. This comes at a time when a large section of the people, particularly the members of the non-Sinhala community and a good majority of the Catholics are openly speaking of a “Secular State” without any special place for any of the religions though in the past Buddhism received a prominent place in the constitution. Even though it was not recognized as the State Religion, nevertheless the emphasis was to give a special privileged place for Buddhism. A good section of the people of other creeds expected a change and when Cardinal reaffirmed the traditional stance, most of us were stunned. So following a short discussion the group decided to send letter to the Cardinal with copies to the press, expressing our disagreement and insisting on the need for a Secular State. This eventually took the form of a statement that was released to the papers later.
The meeting came to a close with the evaluation where the need to have inputs from various resource persons was highlighted. The need to have more members from the other dioceses and congregations, with the possibility of having sessions for a few lay persons is to be explored.
The next meeting was fixed for 1 - 4 February 2017 in Madhu (Mannar), Northern Province, Sri Lanka.