“Groundless accusations against the sisters of the missionaries of charity and ‘Prem Nivasa’ “
| by Fr. Sunil De Silva
(December 07, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Press Conference was held at the Archbishop’s House, Borella, Colombo 08 on 03rd December 2011. His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Episcopal Vicar Very Rev. Fr. Ivan Perera , Episcopal Vicar Very Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando, Rev. Fr. Noel Dias, several Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, Senior Counsel Neville Abeyratne who appears for the Court case on behalf of the Rev. Sr. Mary Eliza, and several other Rev. Fathers participated in the Press Conference.
His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo addressing the Press Conference said, “Today we have gathered here to clarify certain matters and questions that have arisen with regard to the “Prem Nivasa” at Rawathawatta. This home administered and looked after by the Catholic Church, with the assistance of the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity. Therefore the Archbishop of Colombo responsibly take care of this home.”
“ Recently in a medical report published by the Ministry of Health stated that there are nearly 300,000 abortions per year in Sri Lanka. This is a movement of destroying the future children of Sri Lanka and it is a crime against the future of this country. We need to take legal steps on this matter and the society as a whole is responsible for such involuntary pregnancies. It is our prime responsibility to see that these children are born, loved and looked after. This comes from own religious thinking to protect and look after such children and the orphans. When young girls or women or even underage children are raped or even abused by this society and have involuntary pregnancies, it is the responsibility of the society to help such desperate and victimized persons. Who will look after these children, children who are raped or abused and then abandon ? Even the underage child who was in this home was raped by her mother’s sister’s son. How you will help this kind of children ? “
” The Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity established by Mother Teresa, is world renowned for their dedicated and selfless service and they accept these children lovingly and look after them with utmost care. Mother Teresa’s work has been recognized and acclaimed throughout the world. These Sisters are serving almost in all the countries in the world, even in the countries that do not accept Religion, have invited these Mother Teresa’s Sisters to serve and look after the desperate children. These Sisters look after not only such desperate children, but also elderly, sick, handicapped, the abandon, the rejected, the destitute and the disable persons as well.” said Cardinal Malcolm.
Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu ) was born as the youngest of three children in Albania, on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia. She felt that August 27, 1910, the day of her baptism, was her true birthday.
|His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, called a Press Conference with the regard incident at ” Prem Nivasa”.|
At the age of 18 she joined the Order of the Sisters of Our Lady of Loreto in Ireland. She trained in Dublin, where the motherhouse of the Loreto Sisters was. She chose the name of Sister Teresa, in memory of Saint Therese of Lisieux. In December, 1928, she began her journey to India and continued to Darjeeling, at the base of the Himalayan Mountains, where she would continue her training towards her religious vows. Soon after, on January 6, 1929, she arrived in Calcutta, the capital of Bengal, India to teach at a school for girls. While in Calcutta, she was moved by the presence of the sick and dying on the city’s streets.
On September 10, 1946, on the long train ride to Darjeeling where she was to go on a retreat and to recover from suspected tuberculosis, something happened. She had a life-changing encounter with the Living Presence of the Will of God. Mother Teresa recalls: “I realized that I had the call to take care of the sick and the dying, the hungry, the naked, the homeless – to be God’s Love in action to the poorest of the poor”. That was the beginning of the Missionaries of Charity.
She didn’t hesitate, she didn’t question. She asked permission to leave the Loreto Congregation and to establish a new Order of sisters. She received that permission from Pope Pius XII. Surely it was no coincidence that she chose a simple white sari with sapphire blue bands (representing God’s Will) as her order’s garment.
His Eminence further said, “ Mother Teresa, who established this Congregation, is beatified in the Church. These Sisters primary task is to love and care for those persons nobody was prepared to look after, She devoted herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. She walked through the streets of Calcutta and gathered the dying off the streets of Calcutta and brought them to this home to care for them during the days before they died.”
Mother’s Order, founded in 1947, has nearly 5040 nuns running orphanages, homes of poor, AIDS hospices and other charitable centres around the world.
In 1948, she opened the first school for slum children in Calcutta. She used to help the poor and taught them about hygiene. In 1952, she opened Nirmal Hriday (or Pure hearts), a home for the dying. On the very first day, Mother Teresa picked up a woman literally half-eaten by rats and ants and carried her to the home and cleaned her. This Home for Dying became more and more popular where the dying who had no place to go were brought and were given proper medical treatment.
Mother Teresa also started a home for babies and for destitute children whose parents could not care them, or whose parents have left them on the streets of Calcutta.
Mother Teresa also started a colony for lepers where they could build their own houses and could work on their own fields. The colony was called Shanti Nagar. The biggest problem, according to her, was not the disease, but the lack of love and charity, the feeling of being unwanted.
Mother Teresa considered abortion as the biggest evil. On abortion she said that ;
“A nation that destroys the life of an unborn child, who has been created for living and loving, who has been created in the image of God, is in a tremendous poverty.”
When Mother Teresa was called to Eternal Rest in the Heavenly Home, then Vice-President of India Krishan Kant said, “With the death of Mother Teresa, a messiah of the poor has left us. The poor will feel poorer. This shock will sprout forth a fountain of love and compassion for the causes she served. She will remain a symbol of dedication and selfless service.”
His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm said, “ Mother Teresa looked after the dying and the destitute. It is a responsibility entrusted to us in our faith and religion. Her services are very well recognized by the Indian Government and even the Hindu Organizations. These Sisters serve with a great commitment, not looking for financial benefits or gains. They get up very early in the morning by 4.00 am and begin the day with prayer to serve the poorest of the poor and the helpless in the society. Even at the “Prem Nivasa” these Sisters have been serving in a very similar way. I have personally visited this home and have met the children and I have spoken to them and to others in this home. When pregnant girls and women come to this home seeking shelter and refuge, these Sisters do not ask them a question about their religion or caste or creed or even whether they are rich or poor, etc, they never ask such questions. Some girls or women who have been raped, even thinking of committing suicide in their desperate situation, because someone has destroyed their life and dignity, their name has been tarnished, unable to go home or to their village, come to this home for refuge. So these Sisters accept them and look after them very well. Raped girls or women who come to this home are sent by the Courts after the Court’s procedure is over and they are sent through the Probation Office, which is under the Social Ministry. When the children are born, these unwedded mothers are free to decide to take the child along with them or handover the child to the Sisters through the Courts and Probation office to look after the child and be given for adoption. Adoption is done through a Court procedure and it is through the Court a child is handed over for adoption having carefully and thoroughly investigated into the background and the intentions of the married couple who had asked for a child, and also inquiring the intention of the original parents of the child. Children for adoption are given through the Probation Office after following the proper Court procedure. There could be some unattended work, since the Sisters accept them as they come. However, Sisters accept these children or girls or women and help them first to overcome their sufferings, their tensions, trauma in minds and desperate situations they have faced.”
“ Some of the Sisters serving in these homes are from different other countries and do a magnificent service to the humanity. While these Sisters were serving in this way, there had been an anonymous telephone call to National Child Protection Authority ( NCPA ) and purely acting on this call, NCPA accompanying the police personnel and the media personnel, and entered “Prem Nivasa “ on 25th November 2011 and surrounded the home. And NCPA had given different interviews and information to the media, even without following a proper investigation of the anonymous telephone call they received. And they have spoken and published many things against the Sisters without a thorough inquiry. I was listening to the interview NCPA gave through SLBC ( Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation ) radio channel and I was shocked to hear what NCPA said. What happened here is that NCPA and police did not find out the true facts and information about the “ Prem Nivasa “ and about the inmates of the home, instead gave to the media totally incorrect information, which was used maliciously against the Sisters and their service.” said Cardinal Malcolm.
He also said, “ I asked the Sisters personally about their service and about the allegations leveled against them, then the Sisters told me very clearly, that they have never sold an child or have not given any child for adoption either to foreign married couples or to Sri Lankan married couples, without following the Court procedure and the procedure of the Probation Office, which is under the Social Ministry in the government. Probation Office had been closely working with the Sisters and they have been visiting this “Prem Nivasa “ very regularly to help the Sisters in their service to the destitute children and other helpless girls and women. The Director of the Probation Office gave an interview and confirmed that the work of the Sisters at “Prem Nivasa” is in order.”
“ Some news papers in the published articles, had mentioned about money being taken by the Sisters for adoption, in some news papers, it was Rs. 07 lakhs or Rs.35, 000/= and different figures were given. These are totally lies. Some news papers reported saying that they found a couple who had come at that time with Rs.35,000/= to take a child for adoption. This money was to pay the Court fee and to open a bank account in the name of the child for his or her future. So this money was not taken by the Sisters.” His Eminence said.
“Lankadeepaya news paper published a news item, with the heading of “ it is questionable to see only the handicapped children are taken abroad”. When a such heading is published, that Rawathawatta home gives only the handicapped children for abroad, this creates wrong impression to say that handicapped children are taken abroad for an ulterior purpose and to remove different organs and there is always room for misinterpretation. This is a very dangerous and serious allegation. We deny it vehemently and totally. I tell this with responsibility. We have in Catholic religion, “Do not tell lies” and even in Buddhism, it says, “ Musa Vada Veramani sikkhpadam samadiyami”( Do not tell lies ) is one of the Panchaseela precepts. Therefore we should not tell lies to cause harm on others.”
“ Since there is a Court Case, I didn’t want to give any statement or say anything to the media. But several things are written at the international level drawing attention to the incident at “ Prem Nivasa” of Mother Teresa’s Sisters. There are also several news published at the international level against this action of the authority. The Director and the Founder of Savodiya, has said that he is well aware how the Sisters look after the “Prem Nivasa” and the children and other inmates. I have been accused in the overseas Press that I, as the Archbishop of Colombo, has been silent over this matter and this silence has the media to publish news as they want about the “Prem Nivasa” and the work of the Sisters in this home. I was silent, since there was a Court Case going on. This kind of pressure pushes me to express my views over this matter as the Head of the Church in Sri Lanka.” Said Cardinal Malcolm.
His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith further said, “What I have to say that there are several groundless accusations leveled without properly investigating or finding the truth about the services of these Sisters. I make use of this opportunity to protest in the strongest terms, against this high handed action. I appeal to all the Catholics to pray for these Rev. Sisters who, and also for the misguided people and also to express their solidarity with the Sisters. Therefore, I strongly protest against the way this matter has been handled and as a mark of protest, I will not attend any State or State Institution functions during this Christmas period, until this is rectified.”
“Mother Teresa’s Sisters absolutely not involved in child – trafficking ” – Lawyer Neville Abeyratne informs the Court
Attorney-at-Law Neville Abeyratne presenting his submissions on behalf of Rev. Sr. Mary Eliza and ” Prem Nivasa”, of the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, informed the Court, said that the ” ‘Prem Nivasa’ or the Sisters of Mother Teresa absolutely not involved in taking any money when the children are given for adoption. “Prem Nivasa” is registered under the Probation Department which is under the Social Ministry of the government. Therefore, everything at ‘Prem Nivasa’ had been done in consultation and on the instructions of the Probation Dept. and the children for adoption have been given through a legal procedure and through the Courts”
Attorney-at-Law Neville Abeyratne made his submission when the Case filed by the NCPA was taken in the Magistrate Courts on 01st December before the Colombo Additional Magistrate, Yvonne Fernando.
Responding to the accustions of the National Child Protection Authority, about keeping underage children at ” Prem Nivasa”.Attorney-at-Law Neville Abeyratne said, ” NCPA mentioned that there are 03 underage children at the ‘Prem Nivasa’. One of them had been sent to the ‘Prem Nivasa’ by the police who had been raped by her mother’s sister’s son. The other child was sent by the Probation Dept and the third child is a Tsunami victim, who had her lost parents and family members and was handed over to the ‘Prem Nivasa’ by her Aunt, since there was no one lookafter her. Therefore, Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity are involved in this kind of humanitarian work.But NCPA had given information to the media that the Sisters are involved in selling children. NCPA, therefore, as a children protecting unit must act in a such way of assisting and helping these homes to lookafter the children”.
He further made his submissions, saying that, ” several women who go abroad for employment, have returned to Sri Lanka having fallen into difficulties. Several pregnant women have come to the Sisters to find refuge, since they could not go to their homes or villages. Besides, there is no any such law in Sri Lanka prohibiting such pregnant women seeking refuge in a safe home”.
Attorney-at-Law Neville Abeyratne, informed the Court that ” several news papers and media maliciously reported ‘Prem Nivasa’ and have caused severe damages to the functioning of these homes for the children as well as for others unwedded mothers. During the past few days, when they were taken to the hospitals for medical care, hospitals have refused to treat them.”. Therefore, he requested Courts to stop media and NCPA publishing such incorrect information about “prem Nivasa”..
On the other hand NCPA requested that they need more time further investigations and to submit full reports and Colombo Additional Magistrate, Yvonne Fernando gave time for further submissions and reports.And also Magistrar ordered the NCPA to find about the rape incident and submit a report to the Courts.
Next hearing will be on 15th December 2011.
REV. SR. MARY ELIZA MC RELEASED ON BAIL
Rev. Sr. Mary Eliza who was arrested on Friday the 25th November 2011 by Police under the instructions and orders given by the National Child Protection Authority, was released by the Colombo Additional Magistrate, Yvonne Fernando on cash bail amounting to Rs.7500.00 for each case and with two sureties with a bond of Rs. 50,000.00 for each.
Rev. Fr. Sunil De Silva, Parish Priest of Bambalapitiya and Rev. Sr. Nilanthi FMM, from Caritas Sri Lanka Office appeared for cash bail and as sureties.
Magistrate Court also ordered Sr. Eliza to stay in another Convent and to submit her passport to the Court and asked her not to leave the country until the case is over.
On behalf of Sr.Eliza, Attorney-at-Law Neville Abeyratne and several other lawyers appeared in for the Case.
Next hearing will be on 01st December 2011.
A team headed by Anoma Dissanayake, Chairperson of the National Child Protection Authority , including Police officers of the Authority had surrounded the ” Prem Nivesa ” at Moratuwa, of the Missionary Sisters of Blessed Mother Teresa on 23rd November 2011 to investigate into the children and mothers being looked after by the Rev. Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity.
On Friday night around 11.00 pm, some police officers had arrested the superior of the Convent, Rev. Sr. Mary Eliza, an Indian MC Sister and had taken two other Rev. Sisters to the Magistrar’s house in Ja-ela. Then they proceeded to Wennappuwa, when they found that the Magistrar has gone to her ancestral home at Wennappuwa. Convent vehicle which was following the other vehicle lost the sight of the vehicle since it was moving on different routes. There was no time even to send a lawyer from Colombo to speak on behalf of the arrested Indian Sister. While Sr. Eliza was imprisoned at Welikada prisons, other two Sisters were sent back to the Convent..
Very Rev. Sr. Johannes MC, Provincial of the Missionary Sisters in Sri Lanka, said that the Department of Probation and Child Care Services had been closely working with them to take care of the children and also have received relevant permission of the Department of Probation to lookafter these children. National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) is an independent body that functions under the Office of the President. The Department of Probation and Child Care Services which works under the Ministry of Social Services and Social Welfare.
The CID officers and Media went to “Prem Nivasa” on suspicion that they are engaged in child trafficking after receiving an anonymous tip via an emergency hotline.Some media reported that the Sisters have been selling children and one news paper published an article accusing the Rev. Sisters of selling the future of the country to foreigners for few thousand rupees. Through that article the writer is trying arouse the feelings and anger of the ordinary People.
Very Rev. Sr. Johannes totally and categorically deny it and said ” We never involve in selling these precious lives of the children and never take money for any of our work. According to the laws of the country, children are given for adoption only through a legal procedure, but never sell their lives”.
Rev. Sr. Mary Eliza is in Welikada prison at the moment.She had put into the common apartment and the Sisters who went to see her today had asked permission to bring her food, which Prison authority had refused. ” Thousands of people are praying for justice and truth together with thousands of Missionary Sisters around the world.
Sr.Eliza will be produced before the Magistrate Courts No.08 at Hultsdorp, Colombo on Monday, 28th November 2011.
Mother Teresa working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta, on October 7, 1950, received permission from the Holy See to start her own order, “The Missionaries of Charity”, whose primary task was to love and care for those persons nobody was prepared to look after. In 1965 the Society became an International Religious Family by a decree of Pope Paul VI.
Mother Teresa tells how she for the first time picked up a woman from the street.,”The woman was half eaten up by rats and ants. I took her to the hospital, but they could do nothing for her. They only took her because I refused to go home unless something was done for her. After they cared for her, I went straight to the townhall and asked for a place where I could take these people, because that day I found more people dying in the street. The employee of health services brought me to the temple of Kali and showed me the “dormashalah” where the pilgrims used to rest after they worshipped the goddess Kali. The building was empty and he asked me if I wanted it. I was very glad with the offer for many reasons, but especially because it was the center of prayer for Hindus. Within 24 hours we brought our sick and suffering and started the Home for the Dying Destitutes.”
Ever since then, thousands of men, women and children have been taken from the streets of Calcutta to an environment of kindness and love. In their last hours they met human and Divine Love, and could feel that they also were children of God. For those who didn’t die, the Missionaries of Charity tried to find jobs or they were sent to homes where they could live happily some more years in a caring home.
The biggest problem, according to her, was not the disease but the lack of love and charity, the feeling of being unwanted.
Mother considered abortion as the biggest evil. On abortion she said that:”A nation that destroys the life of an unborn child, who has been created for living and loving, who has been created in the image of God, is in a tremendous poverty.”
“The hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.” said Mother Teresa.