The now retired Archbishop Oswald Gomis of Colombo faced huge challenges during the takeover of Sri Lanka’s Catholic-run schools by the state in the 1960s. The government policy was “certainly not a good thing” and was intended to hit Catholics, said the 85-year-old archbishop, who was honoured by President Maithripala Sirisena for his outstanding religious and social service at a celebration in Colombo on July 22.
Celebrating 50 years of his episcopate, Archbishop Gomis believes the government should not have taken over church-run schools at that time.
“The government thought they [the schools] were avenues for conversion. But because of that, today all other religions have got whacked,” he said. “I have always believed the Catholic Church has a very important mission in Sri Lanka, and that is education.”
Catholic schools were meant to instil Catholic values in their communities and to encourage their practice through teachings of the religion daily.
Archbishop Gomis founded 15 affiliated schools as branches of established schools during his tenure as archbishop.