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Catholicism in Sri Lanka

I am a Sinhalese and a Catholicism in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a multi-religious

society. Though Buddhism is the major religion, other religions such as Hinduism,
Catholicism or Christianity and Islam are also followed. As a Sinhala Catholicism in
Sri Lanka my religion may connect me to another community different from my
nation of Sinhala.

About 70% of the population follows Buddhism. Buddhism came to Sri Lanka
from India during the reign of Ashoka in third century BC and played a significant
role in the establishment of Sinhalese kingdoms since the early times, dating back
to over two thousands years. Buddhism was regarded the highest ethical and
philosophical expression of Sinhalese culture and civilization.

There are approximately 1.2 million Catholics in Sri Lanka representing

around 6.1% of the total population. Christianity first came to Sri Lanka upon the
arrival of the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. Under their rule, Roman
Catholicism was spread out in a mass scale of the Island with many Roman Catholic
schools for the Sinhalese and the Tamils. With the attempts of the Portuguese to
Christianize native people, Buddhism and Hinduism were severely affected. There
were an increasing number of both Sinhalese and Tamils converting to Roman
Catholicism. When the Portuguese were driven out by the Dutch, Protestantism and

the Dutch Reformed Church was introduced. During the British rule conversions to
Christianity increased. Later on due to the nationalism movement among the
Sinhalese who held sway the political power; Christianity in Sri Lanka was somewhat

In Western Christianity the principal groups that regard themselves as

"Catholic" without full communion with the Pope are the Ancient Catholic Church,
the Old Catholic Church, the Liberal Catholic Church, the Chinese Patriotic Catholic
Association, similar groups among Filipinos and Poles, and some elements of
Anglicanism ("High Church Anglicans" or "Anglo-Catholics").

These groups hold spiritual beliefs and practice religious rituals similar to
those of Roman Catholics of the Latin Rite from which they emerged, but reject the
Pope's claimed status and authority. Some Traditional Catholic groups are in a
similar position. The Liberal Catholic Church, founded when Charles W. Leadbeater,
formerly a clergyman in the Church of England, and later one of the heads of the
Theosophical Society, was ordained as a bishop in the Old Catholic Church,
additionally incorporates significant elements of theosophy into its doctrinal faith.

For the first 1,500 years of Christianity there was no "Catholicism" as it is

known it today, simply because there were no other forms of Christianity to
distinguish it. There was only the "one, holy, catholic church" ("catholic" means
"universal"), which was the body of Christian believers all over the western world,
united by common traditions, beliefs, church structure and worship.

Today, there are many popular forms of Christianity besides Roman

Catholicism. Although the Catholic Church continues to teach that it alone has
carried on the true tradition of the apostolic church, the Second Vatican Council
declared all baptized Christians to be "in a certain, although imperfect, communion
with the Catholic Church." [1] So to be a Catholic today means to be a certain kind

of Christian: one with beliefs, practices and traditions that differ from those of
Protestantism, Anglicanism, Greek Orthodox, and other branches of modern

Roman Catholicism is by far the largest Christian group. With more than one
billion adherents, Catholics constitute about half of the world's Christians.
Catholicism is the majority religion of Italy, Spain, and nearly all Latin American
countries. In 2001, about 24 percent of Americans identified themselves as Catholic,
making Catholicism the largest Christian denomination in America (if the Protestant
denominations are counted individually). The next largest denomination, Baptists,
was claimed by 16 percent of Americans. Yet if Protestants are considered as one
group, Catholics remain a minority among America's Christians.

Distinctive Roman Catholic beliefs include the special authority of the pope,
the ability of saints to intercede on behalf of believers, the concept of purgatory as
a place of afterlife purification before entering heaven, and the doctrine of
transubstantiation - that is, that the bread used in the Eucharist becomes the true
body of Christ when blessed by a priest.

Catholics are, first and foremost, Christians who believe that Jesus Christ is
the Son of God. Catholicism shares some beliefs with other Christian practices, but
essential Catholic beliefs include the following: The Bible is the inspired, error-free,
and revealed word of God;
Baptism, the rite of becoming a Christian, is necessary for salvation whether the
Baptism occurs by water, blood, or desire; Gods Ten Commandments provide a
moral compass an ethical standard to live by; The existence of the Holy Trinity
one God in three persons. Catholics embrace the belief that God, the one Supreme
Being, is made up of three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy

Catholics also believe that since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden
of Eden, all humans are born with original sin, which only Baptism removes. A
happier belief is in grace, a totally free, unmerited gift from God. Grace is a sharing
in the divine; the inspiration to do Gods will.

Catholics recognize the unity of body and soul for each human being. So the
whole religion centers on the truth that humankind stands between the two worlds
of matter and spirit. The physical world is considered part of God's creation and is,
therefore, inherently good until an individual misuses it.

Catholics observe seven sacraments: religious rituals believed to be

commanded by God and effective in conferring grace on the believer. Other
distinctive Catholic practices include veneration of saints, use of the crucifix, and
the use of rosary beads in prayer.
Catholics believe that acting morally means acting in accordance with the eternal
laws of God, which are written into the human heart so deeply that even those who
know nothing of God can follow the path of morality. Natural law, as this interior
marking is called, comes to humans through their capacity to reason, which sparks
the conscience to respond to the eternal law. This means that people of other faiths
and no faith at all have the capacity to act as morally as Catholic Christians,
although they will struggle more since they will not have the benefit of the
sacraments that open them to the grace to resist sin.

When it comes to matters of faith and morals, the Church teaches that the
pope and the bishops have great authority to instruct believers, an authority that
becomes infallible in the very few instances where they are dogmatically defining a
doctrine. Catholics are required to accept such teachings, but this does not mean
that they check their individual consciences at the door of the church. A believer
may not simply dismiss a Church teaching with which he or she disagrees; rather,
the Catholic is called upon to study the teaching, pray for guidance and hopefully
come to see the wisdom and power of the Church's teaching office, even if he or she
does not immediately see the wisdom of the teaching itself. But in the end, other
than in instances of dogmatically defined doctrine, the individual conscience holds

Like all Christians, Catholics see the Ten Commandments found in the Hebrew
scriptures as the basic groundwork for moral action, which together with the life of
Jesus provide a deep and abiding understanding for how to act with love and justice
in the world. The Gospel of Matthew relates that upon being asked which
commandment was most important, Jesus replied that all of the law is contained in
the commandments to love God and love your neighbor. Catholics see this as going
beyond the injunctions of moral law by drawing believers into a relationship with
others as well as with God, and it is the foundation of the Church's teaching on
issues of social justice.
There were dramatic shifts in the regional distribution of the Catholic
population between 1910 and 2010, some of this change is due to different rates of
overall population growth. Europe, for example, was home to 24% of the people in
the world in 1910; as of 2010, just 11% of the worlds population lives in Europe.
Meanwhile, Latin America and the Caribbean grew from 4% of the global population
in 1910 to 9% in 2010.
Another way to look at the change between 1910 and 2010 is to compare the
portion of each regions population that is Catholic. Latin America was the most

heavily Catholic region in both years, but the share of the regions population that is
Catholic decreased from about 90% in 1910 to 72% in 2010. Meanwhile, Europes
population went from 44% Catholic to 35% Catholic. While both Latin America and
Europe became less heavily Catholic over this period, Latin America which had
much larger population growth eclipsed Europe to become the region with the
largest Catholic population in sheer numbers.
but not
days that are celebrated by Catholicisms in Sri Lanka.

As a result Catholicism is
major religion in Europe
in Asia. Therefore Asian
some practices related to
community. There are
Christmas, and saints
are main festivals and

Christmas is one of the most popular festivals in the world, and though it
started out as a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus and is still celebrated
as such by the Roman Catholic Church, it is popular with non-religious people too,
especially in countries with large numbers of Christians.

by several

Friday is a holy day that

precedes Easter Sunday,
meant to commemorate
crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
festivals, it is also marked
denominations. For the

Roman Catholic Church, Good Friday is a fast day, and is the culmination of the Holy
Week that precedes it. The occasion is highlighted by a special church service.

Easter Sunday is meant to celebrate Jesus rising from the dead three days
after his crucifixion. It is the most important feast in the liturgical year. In the Roman
Catholic faith the celebration of Easter Sunday begins with a Mass on the evening of
Holy Saturday, which is the Saturday that falls in between Good Friday and Easter
Sunday. Easter Sunday is usually commemorated with a feast.

In addition to the well known Roman Catholic Church festivals there are also
many days throughout the year dedicated to various Roman Catholic saints.
Whether or not a saint is celebrated on a given day depends on several things,
including the country and even the region of the country in question. A common
way to celebrate a saint on the day in question is with a commemorative service
and a feast.

Consequently as a Sinhalese and Catholicism, my religion may connect me to

western community also. As my point of view it is a valuable opportunity to me to
represent a part of the community of very few population in Sri Lanka. There are
specific values, beliefs, and practices in that community understands and defines its
own identity.