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|80th anniversary of Vatican City State
The Vatican City State was officially created 80 years ago - to be
exact on February 11, 1929 - in the Hall of Honour of the Lateran
Palace. The “Lateran Pacts” including a treaty of conciliation, a
concordat and a financial convention were signed on that day by
Cardinal Gaspam and Italian Premier Benito Mussolini.
This pact thereby established the independent State of Vatican
City and also gave the Roman Catholic religion, special status in
Italy. The agreement also marked an end to the “Roman Question” and
clarifying the relations between the Catholic Church and the Italian
By the signing of this historical pact, the State of Vatican City
was formally created. Over the centuries, the Popes held temporal
sovereignty over parts of Italy (so-called Papal States), comprising
several thousands of square miles and comprising a population of
about 4 million in the 19th century. The sovereignty of the Pope
confined to the palaces of the Vatican, the villa of Castel Gandolfo
and the Lateran in Rome, by an 1871 Italian law.
Today, the total area of the Vatican City State is approximately
108 acres including St Peter’s, the Vatican Palace, the Museum
covering over 13 acres and the Vatican gardens. Over a dozen
buildings in Rome, outside the boundaries, enjoy special territorial
rights, especially to house the officials handling the
administration of the Holy See.
By the Treaty of Conciliation, the Pope who is not only the
spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church but also the Head of
the Vatican City State, is pledged to perpetual neutrality, unless
his mediation is specifically requested. He is, however, not
debarred from defending the Church, whenever it is persecuted.
When Pope Paul VI was invited to visit Sri Lanka in the early 1970s,
many Buddhist clergy objected to the leader of the Roman Catholics
visiting this island. These protests died down when it was pointed
out that Pope Paul VI was the Head of the Vatican City State as
At the time of the signing of the 1929 pact, Pope Pius XI noted;
“Territorial sovereignty is a universally recognised condition which
is indispensable for any authentic jurisdictional sovereignty;
therefore, it is sufficient at least that amount of territory which
can sustain the sovereignty, without which it would not be able to
exist, since it would have nowhere to be based.”
All the Popes, over the past 80 years have confirmed the nature
of this territorial entity, as a means to ensure the real and
visible independence of the Apostolic See in its work of governing
the Universal Roman Catholic Church and at the same time, serving
It should be noted that the all-powerful Vatican Radio was
inaugurated on February 12, 1931 - exactly two years after the
founding of Vatican City State.
The current Pope is Holy Father Benedict XVI born 82 years ago in
Bavaria, Germany as Joseph Ratzinger.
According to the Roman Catholic Church, the Apostle Peter is the
founder of the Church of Rome. Peter arrived in Rome around 42 AD
and was martyred about 25 years later and was made a Saint.
The Pope’s temporal title is “Sovereign of the State of Vatican
City.” His spiritual titles are Bishop of Rome; Vicar of Jesus
Christ; Successor of St Peter; Prince of the Apostles; Primate of
Italy; Patriarch of the West; Archbishop and Metropolitan of the
Roman Province; Sovereign of the State of Vatican City and the
Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church.
The Vatican City State is also called the “Eternal City.”
|Bring capital punishment back!
Ever since the capital punishment was removed, crimes in our
country have escalated to such a level that all serious thinking
people should advocate that the capital punishment be introduced to
check crimes in our country.
Very lately, we find children becoming victims to these brutes who
not only to satisfy their lust but kill them. The suspect, when
produced before a court of law, escapes with a few years in prison.
But what about the pain of mind the parents of the victim,
especially the mother, undergo is beyond anybody’s imagination.
Look at the small children who for no fault of them are the
victims. This must be stopped and the only deterrent punishment
would be the hanging of the perpetrator of the crime. Like in good
old days, they should be hung in public. Some may argue why another
life, when one is already lost? But one has no right to take the
life of the other. The capital punishment is the only means to bring
these crimes to a halt.
|Two significant landmarks
educational institute of excellent repute, and a commercial
organisation of equal standing will cross phenomenal landmarks in
the year 2010, as Royal College Colombo, and George Steuart and Co.
Ltd., both established in Ceylon in 1835, celebrate their 175th
anniversary this year. Having had my entire school education at the
former, and devoted almost all of my commercial life to the latter,
I consider myself fortunate to have been part of a unique group of
members who benefited from an association, at some point in their
lives with both these long-standing establishments of repute.
Now, in retirement, reflecting on the chaos that has gripped the
world, I can visualise with even greater clarity, the priceless
values that Royal taught me. As they are too numerous to mention in
an article as this, I will confine myself to those I came to value
exceptionally in my own life.
The first lesson in our early formative years as students was
that we were all Ceylonese, as citizens of one beautiful nation
called Ceylon. The second helped to distinguish between right and
wrong, and stressed that the two could never meet. The next,
encouraged us to emulate the strong but did not let us forget the
weak. The fourth, an inspirational lesson, emphasised that every
right implied a responsibility, and was directed at class monitors,
house and school prefects, captains of games etc. The next was a
lesson in mature leadership that instilled in us, that success in
governance, no matter in what field, required accountability. And
finally the priceless farewell lesson: That a life of self- respect
and dignity would always be synonymous with integrity.
With these time tested values loyally protected over 175 years by
successive generations, Royal has held its own with the best schools
in the world, from its very inception. In that period, fellow
Royalists have successfully traversed that single path leading to
man’s estate, while keeping the valuable work and fame of our
At George Steuarts, where I spent almost the entirety of my
commercial life, I found these values to be the hallmarks of the
company in the conduct of its businesses and in its interpersonal
relationships. As at Royal, successive generations at George
Steuarts too have faithfully protected the work and fame of its
founders by respecting such values.
May these values also find their appropriate place in the era of
prosperity for our beautiful nation and its wonderful people, now
that the war is at its end. Given the impermanence of life, there
can be no greater reward at its inevitable termination, as the
comfort derived from knowing that through it all, we acted
consistently with common sense and our conscience.
Many happy returns and may God bless the new dawn!
|Correct pronunciation of Al- Qaeda
The most correct pronunciation for Al- Qaeda – the controversial
Islamic group associated with Osama bin Laden is Al- Qaa ‘ e dah (a
four syllable Arabic word). ‘Al’ in Arabic is the definite article
‘the’ and Qaeda means ‘foundation / basis’ and not Al -Qai da
pronounced as three syllables by all the newsreaders over the radio
and the TV. I request that the radio and TV stations apprise the
announcers accordingly about the correct pronunciation, that is,
regarding the elongation on the second syllable, a small pause on
the third and the ‘ah’ sound on the last syllable.
W. S. Mendis Abeysekera
126th birth anniversary of my father
I am happy that my father’s birth anniversary fell on January 26,
a red letter day for the future of my motherland. May his birth
anniversary bring more peace and prosperity to our country!
His name was Walimuni Simon Mendis Abeysekera born in Balapitiya to
a very respectable family. His father was Peter Mendis Abeysekera,
Notary Public and his father’s father was a lecturer in Sinhala,
Pali and Sanskrit at the Seminary at Christ Church College,
Baddegama. My father’s mother was Mempi Mendis Abeysekera, a niece
of Muhandiram Palis Mendis Abeysekera and her only brother was an
astrologer, Arnolis Mendis Abeysekera who published the first
almanac (astrological) in the history of Sri Lanka (Epa Litha). He
was better known as Ahungalle Gurunanse.
Simon Abeysekera’s wife was Dolly Mageret de Zoysa Siriwardene,
Headmistress for 38 years from Gamakarana Walauwwa, Balapitiya. Her
mother’s brother was the famous lawyer, Francis De Zoysa (Kings
Counsel) who was also instrumental in fighting for our Independence.
His son Stanley de Zoysa (Ja-Ela) was the Minister of Finance in the
Bandaranaike cabinet while her first cousin MP de Z. Siriwardena
(Minuwangoda) was the Minister of Labour and Sydney de Zoysa (DIG),
Bunty de Zoysa, famous lawyer and Lucien de Zoysa, famous All-Ceylon
cricketer, and commentator were her other cousins.
My father retired as a teacher and principal on January 26, 1950,
exactly on his birthday. He died when he was 97 years old. He taught
in eight schools in the Southern Province. He was a non-smoker and
teetotaller. He also joined CLI (Ceylon Light Infantry 1907-1912)
and was trained in warfare. He had three sons and two daughters.
His son, late Susil was the simultaneous interpreter for the Senate,
Parliament, Criminal Justice Commission, IGP and the Presidential
Commission. His daughter Padmini was a retired English Trained
Teacher from D.S.Senanayake College, Colombo 7. Late Cyril was the
Personnel Manager, Lanka Salu Sala. The other daughter late
Srimathie was a retired English Trained Teacher at Musaeus College,
Cololombo 7. Son Percy is PR Consultant, ACL Cables PLC, Colombo 10.
It was in 1949, Holsinger, Principal, the Government English
Training College, Colombo was showing around the College to a team
of Educationists from England and was walking across the huge
library where my sister Padmini was busy with the classification of
books. While passing Holsinger introduced my sister to the
Englishmen as the daughter of the Principal who was a landmark of
the Education Department and told my sister if you could be 5% of
what your father was as a teacher, you could be satisfied and proud.
In fact, my father named me after three English Directors of
Education under whom he served and loved namely; Denham, Percy and
Gimson. Let these meritorious deeds help my father attain the
Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.
Miss Mavis Fernando and Mrs.
The two M’s of Good Shepherd
In the past one and a half months, Good Shepherd Convent Kotahena
has lost two of its stalwarts; they were very active members of the
Association of the Past Teachers of the School.
The soft-spoken solid Mavis Fernando whom we upheld as the
foundation stone in the Sinhala stream and Mrs. Matilda Perera very
competent and ably taking on the finishing line of the same stream
are the two M’s
The little buds that were placed under the loving and expert care
of Miss Mavis Fernando, in year one were moulded and nourished by
her before she passed them onto us to take care of them and nurture
them year after year until they reached the finishing line in the
A/Ls class of Mrs. Matilda Perera. She was not only a teacher but a
sister and friend to her pupils. Under her guidance and care, the
little buds that were placed with Mavis Fernando bloomed into women
of career and character.
Mavis and Matilda can proudly count doctors, lawyers,
accountants, teachers, and other professionals among their pupils.
We as colleagues are honoured to have worked with them.
May the good Lord bless and keep them!
We will miss Zu
The month of January reminds us of the passing away of our
Peradeniya friend Zu as we affectionately called him.
This year our batch keeps its 50th Anniversary of entry to
Peradeniya. Plans are being made to celebrate this event. When we,
the Peradeniya products of 1960, gather to celebrate we will
certainly miss Zu. Zu was a very close friend from the time I first
met him at Marrs Hall where we resided for four years. We had a
group of the 1960 batch including some from Sangamitta where the
women stayed. At Marrs, we also belonged to the LSSP Group. As a
member of the Marrs Hall LSSP, Zu was elected President of the Hall.
Zu belonged to the Law Faculty. Since he had played cricket for
Zahira, he was a regular member of the Marrs Hall XI. He was one of
those who helped Marrs to win the coveted Gold Cup.
During the Campus vacations I used to visit him at his Ratmalana
residence. I used to spend my vacations at Wellawatte. I still
vividly remember Zu travelling with me in my uncle’s car to the Fort
Railway Station in 1961 when I had to go to India for a work camp.
Those days we students travelled to India by train.
Sadly all the dreams that Zu had at Peradeniya did not come true.
In the context of this reality, he withdrew from us for years.
However when it was discovered that he had a terminal illness I was
able to see him. During those visits, in a sense, we made up our
lost years. I am glad that at the hospital I was able to renew our
friendship. Also, since I had lost a loved one due to cancer I was
able to understand what Zu felt in those final years.
My visits to see him in hospital were markedly different to those
of the 1960’s.
We spoke about Islam, Christianity, Politics etc., since both of us
belonged to ancient faiths there was a depth in our conversations.
Personally, I am glad that I was there to be a friend in Zu’s
last years. Zu, we will miss you when our batch meets this year for
you were charismatic part of Peradeniya’s 1960 batch. Thanks for
your friendship. We will always remember you with love and
|New Year Wishes 2010
celebrated dawn of second decade of the millennium
Sri Lankan proud over mammoth task overpowering brutal terrorism
Dreadful war ended nearly after thirty unfortunate long years
The sun shone over Sri Lanka sans fratricidal war gears.
For those who let us see 2010, let’s salute them preserve their
From North to South, East to West reigns, prevails peace ’n
Psychosis of fear, uncertainly has gradually evaporated
Threats of violence no more, heartless civil conflicts defeated.
Let no external forces interfere internal affairs of motherland
Let us extend maximum unity to protect, safeguard dear motherland
Let long standing grievances of man be redressed
Rights of all communities inhabiting the island be ensured
Through overt not covert means let’s embrace virtues of tolerance
Promoting mutual trust for bountiful land without any hindrance
Let’s help the oppressed, displaced, a decent living secure
With new resolutions calm, serene, delightful, hard to procure
May the echo of peace, hope, prosperity linger everywhere?
New beginnings, opportunities each day for each one, reach not to
Let’s not be fooled by cartloads of promises of Himalayan heights
Let’s not undermine the sacrifice thousands of soldiers did in
May the New Year end fuelling revenge on ethnic groups
Not allow wounds continue to fester or form new troops.
May the New Year endow mankind, a sense of patriotism less tears!
May each one of us be an instrument of peace ‘n harmony in cheers!
Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon
|Geetanjali - The Mother
My name is GEETANJALI
Born on 14-12-1938
My parents are agriculturists
My self and seven siblings
Studied upto fifth standard
Being eldest caring siblings
Helping mother in cooking
At 14 puberty attained
More security on me
At twenty marry Banda
My beloved agriculturist
Industrious and hardworking
Mother of three children
Back to caring them
Growing old gracefully
Cooking, working caring
Await - God’s call
Grey old and feeble children caring me.
Geetanjali - The Sickly!
My name Geetanjali
Born normal like others
At eight years unceasing cough
Doctor diagnoses tuberculosis
Hospitalised in Children’s ward
Left in the care of nurses
Parents, relatives visit
Hope of recovery dim
Visitors too diminish
Born to live
Living lonely in bed
Though fair beautiful
Unable to live fullest
Await – God’s call
This is Geetanjali
Geetanjali - The Victim of Rape
Geetanjali my name
Image of mother beautiful
Dream of a bright future
Lonely walk along jungle path
Wind and rain lashed that day
Dark and lonely was the path
A hand grabs and drags
Into the jungle shouting
Noise, rain and wind
Drown my crying
Against my wishes
Pounces this man
Raped and hopes shattered
Crying go I home
Arm of law takes action.
Lost my modesty
Victim of rape
Geetanjalie my name