Who is the founder of Sri Lanka

In many publications, Tissa Balasuriya has critically described the effects of globalization and opposed the sell-off of Sri Lankan interests to large international corporations and a policy of "structural adjustment", the consequences of which inevitably led to further exploitation of the poorer lower classes in society. Even if the work and positions of Balasuriya were often controversial within the local Sri Lankan Church, the Center for Society and Religion was always an important information point for the Bishops' Conference, and Tissa Balasuriya was often consulted when the bishops in pastoral words about the urgent ones political and ideological conditions in the country wanted to express themselves. For years, the theologian and religious has been involved in peace work and has looked for ways to find socially just solutions to the ethnic conflicts in Sri Lanka.

Sure, Tissa Balasuriya has often caused offense in the manner of his appearance and in the prophetic harshness and sharpness of his judgment and probably also harmed himself and his concerns. But then it was surprising that in 1992 the violent and hurtful arguments broke out over a book about Maria, which culminated in the excommunication of Tissa Balasuriya in January 1997. The work "Mary and Human Liberation", often referred to as a "book", was originally published in 1990 as a double issue in the magazine "Logos". It stands in a row with other publications of the author, in which he already earlier z. B. wrote about "Jesus Christ and Human Liberation" (1976) or "The Eucharist and Human Liberation" (1977). With his book about Mary, Tissa Balasuriya essentially only wanted to show that the traditional image of Mary of "Mary as the humble maid" needs a correction in order to emphasize the message of her life and work aimed at the liberation of man. What Tissa Balasuriya then about the Maria’s liberating role was based on ideas widespread in circles of liberation theology and especially among feminist theologians. When it appeared in the magazine »Logos« in 1990, the work initially did not cause any offense. It was not until the end of 1992 when the Commission for Faith Questions, which had just been established in the Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka, questioned the orthodoxy of the statements made in this book about Mariology, Soteriology and Christology, that the book was heeded again and became a stumbling block. The disputes between Tissa Balasuriya and the Bishops' Conference quickly turned into a matter that attracted attention not only in Sri Lanka, but far beyond, through publications from both sides. When the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome then took up the matter in 1994, the "Tissa Balasuriya case" became even more a matter of Asian theology beyond the person of the theologian. The excommunication pronounced by Rome on January 2, 1997 was understood worldwide as a disciplinary measure aimed at Asian theology in general. The clumsy action on both sides of the dispute did the rest to heat the matter up polemically. The suggestion of Rome that Tissa Balasuriya should make a "creed of faith" tailored to his case as a sign of his submission and correction of previously represented unorthodox thoughts met with incomprehension and resistance not only from those directly affected. It was thanks to the commitment of the Oblate Order that the matter was brought to an amicable end with a settlement and that the excommunication was finally lifted in January 1998.

Why his book about Maria came under criticism is not entirely clear and was more likely to have been determined by chance. The guardians of the faith in Rome would have been more likely to have come to terms with the book written a year later in 1991: "Right Relations, De-Routing and Re-Rooting of Christian Theology" - it is again to deal with a double issue of the magazine Logos. In this book, Tissa Balasuriya first states, with a view to the history of theology, that the questions and answers of the first ecumenical councils on the doctrine of God, Christology and salvation were of little relevance from the point of view of the problematic of an Asian theology. In order to develop a theology better attuned to Asian problems, he demands that Asian theologians should be given the freedom to use Asian cultural and religious traditions to develop new theological ideas and concepts that differ significantly from the traditional Greco-Roman theological ones Differentiate terms. However, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has a negative view of this demand for a legitimate theological pluralism in method and terminology, as evidenced by the action against other Asian theologians and not least the declaration "Dominus Jesus" published by it in August 2000.

It would certainly be wrong to measure the diverse work of Tissa Balasuriya, whose strengths are more in the areas of social ethics, development problems and the social apostolate than in the purely theological sector, only in the disputes over his excommunication. The theologian, who at the time of his excommunication was 72 years old, 51 years a member of the Oblate Order and 44 years a priest, had already essentially completed his life's work. Before founding the "Center for Society and Religion", which may well be regarded as his most important achievement, he was rector of Aquinas University College in Colombo from 1964 to 1971 and spiritual director of the Asian Catholic Student Federation from 1969 to 1979. In both activities he has done a lot for the implementation of the new beginnings of the Second Vatican Council. With an article in the Indian theological journal Clergy Monthly, today Vidyajyoti, in August 1968 with the title "On the Necessity of an Asian Bishops 'Conference", he prophetically advocated the establishment of an "Association of Asian Bishops' Conferences" (FABC), a project which was finally realized in Manila in 1970. His representations and analyzes of the social, political and economic problems of his homeland, which he has provided over many years in many written contributions, at events and in advisory work, are of lasting importance. The »Center for Society and Religion«, which he directs, has done a lot of fundamental work with its employees in order to describe the social tensions and disputes in Sri Lanka and to look for just and peaceful solutions. As can be observed with many pioneers, Tissa Balasuriya has not yet succeeded in ordering his house and finding or accepting suitable successors for the management function at his center.

Tissa Balasuriya, who never worked full-time as a theological teacher at a church institution, but rather remained a lone warrior, presented his ideas on the development of an Asian theology in a series of publications. Central to him was the topic of liberation, which he, certainly also influenced by Latin American liberation theology, presented as an eminently important topic for Asia in its importance for Christology, the doctrine of the sacraments and Mariology.

In summary, it can be said that Tissa Balasuriya is undoubtedly a personality who pioneered the way in the areas of the social apostolate, an Asian theology of liberation and inculturation. However, some of his suggestions and initiatives were misunderstood and rejected because they were presented too polemically and insufficiently on the sensitivity of less progressive bishops, theologians and lay people.

GEORG EVERS
Missiologist