Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith returns to a warm welcome

By Norman Palihawadana

Sri Lanka’s new Cardinal, His Eminence Malcolm Ranjith returned to the country at 8.15 am yesterday to a warm welcome by Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne and a host of Cabinet Ministers, parliamentarians, senior church and government officials at the VIP Lounge of the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).

Thousands of people waving flags gathered on either side of the Colombo-Negombo road to cheer and greet the Cardinal as he was driven in an open motorcade to the Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka at Tewatta, Ragama. They braved the morning drizzle to catch a glimpse of the new Cardinal, which Sri Lanka has been honoured with after a span of 46 years since the late Thomas Cardinal Cooray.

"I will continue to serve the people with profound commitment in keeping with the implicit trust the Pope has placed in me", Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith told the Sunday Island in a brief interview at the BIA.

"The Pope has chosen me as a Cardinal and I will always honour the faith he has placed in me", he noted.

At the Basilica, the new Cardinal paid homage to Sri Lanka’s first Cardinal, the late Thomas Cooray before conducting a Holy Mass.

Later the motorcade proceeded to the Archbishop’s House in Borella.

On December 4, the Cardinal will be received at 9 am at St. Lucia’s Cathedral, where he will conduct his first official service at 9.30 am after which he will bless the people.

On December 6, a state reception will be accorded to him at 3 pm at the BMICH.

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith was among 24 new prelates who received the Red Hat from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in Rome last week.

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