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Colombo bishop quitting Sri Lanka: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 24, 2010 p 6. December 30, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of Ceylon, Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop Duleep de Chickera

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Colombo has announced that he will step down from office on Dec 31 and leave Sri Lanka once a successor has been appointed.

On Dec 19, the Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera said he was retiring after nine years in office, and would serve as vicar-general of the diocese until a successor was chosen at the May meeting of the diocesan synod. The bishop has not offered an explanation as to why he was leaving the country.

A strong critic of government human rights abuses, Bishop de Chickera has been a leading voice in seeking reconciliation between Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka after the decades long civil war.

In a submission last month to the country’s Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation written with the vicar-general of the diocese of Kurunagala, Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe, Bishop de Chickera called for an independent investigations of war crimes committed by the government in the closing days of the civil war.

Bishop De Chickera has also played a high profile role in the Anglican Communion, and was selected by Dr. Rowan Williams to preach to the bishops attending the 2008 Lambeth Conference.  From the pulpit of Canterbury Cathedral, Bishop de Chickera called for the bishops to be agents of social and political change and for the communion to “resuscitate the challenge of unity in diversity.”

“In Christ we are all equal,” Bishop de Chickera said, there is “space for all” within the Anglican Communion regardless of “color, race, gender or sexual orientation.”

The Anglican Communion must exercise its “prophetic voice” and be the “voice of the voiceless,” calling into “accountability those who abuse power,” the Ceylonese bishop said.

The bishop also created a small fracas by closing his Aug 3 sermon to the 2008 Lambeth Conference with a traditional Buddhist chant.  Bishop de Chickera however, failed to say he had substituted the Buddhist text for a Christian one, which in English stated: “I take refuge in God the Father, I take refuge in God the Son, I take refuge in God the Holy Spirit, I take refuge in the One Triune God.”

A short lived outcry arose among non-Sinhalese speaking traditionalist bishops at the conference, who were perturbed by the reciting of a Buddhist chant at Christian worship.

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