Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tissa Balasuriya O.M.I. RIP

On the morning of Thursday January 17, 2013  renowned theologian and saintly prophet of justice Fr Tissa Balasuriya passed away in Sri Lanka.

Tissa's writings are available online and remain part of my lexicon of essential theology. Readers can also access an article published by the Australian Online Catholics in 2005: What Asian Catholics Know

I still cherish the experience of meeting this extraordinary man in the 1980s when he came to Australia as the guest of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission. After a lifetime of formation in the European Theological tradition it was liberating to be exposed to an Asian perspective.  Tissa's insights and commitment to inter-religious relationships challenge us to move beyond mere dialogue and cups of tea.

His witness to a new language for theological conversation brought into into conflict with the Roman Curia in 1997. A well documented  summary of the process of excommunication  and its lifting has been published here.

As well as his writings, Tissa's legacy includes the Centre for Society and Religion and the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians. For many in the Northern hemisphere this week is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. How ironic is  it that one of the great Catholic promoters of Christian Unity will be mourned as indicators point to a diminishing commitment to ecumenism by the current Papacy.

As we grieve the loss of this prophetic witness to faith and political activism may we continue to honour his legacy by our works of justice and our commitment to cross cultural relationships.

2010 Inter Faith tributes to Tissa Balasuriya
Fr Tissa Balasuriya response to Dominus Iesus

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