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Archbishop of Canterbury appoints Father Dushantha Rodrigo as next Bishop of Colombo

Posted on: September 28, 2020 2:21 PM
The Bishop-Designate of Colombo in the Church of Ceylon, Father Dushantha Rodrigo
Photo Credit: Lambeth Palace

The Vicar of the Church of Saint Paul in Kynsey Road, Colombo, Father Dushantha Rodrigo, has been appointed as the next Bishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka. The Diocese is one of two in the Church of Ceylon – an extra-provincial member of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The appointment was announced today by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

The Colombo Diocesan Council referred the appointment of their next Bishop to the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his role as Metropolitan under the Church of Ceylon’s constitution. The Church’s own internal mechanisms failed to elect a bishop in August.

“I am pleased to announce that Father Dushantha is to be the next Bishop of Colombo”, Archbishop Justin said today. “I congratulated him personally by telephone on Friday and am glad to declare my support for him publicly today.”

In his statement, Archbishop Justin apologised “that it has taken me a little time to understand the needs of the diocese, and to identify the qualities that will be needed in its next bishop.” He added: “I am most grateful to all those who have expressed their views to me so clearly and candidly – not only the members of the formal Consultative Body but also members of the Diocesan Standing Committee, former bishops, and many more.

“All have given me invaluable insights, and I am confident that in reliance on the Holy Spirit’s guidance, Father Dushantha will find the strength he will need to lead and reconcile this lively church ‘at such a time as this’ in united witness to the love of Christ amid all the social, ethnic, religious and cultural diversity in the communities that will be in his care.”

The Anglican Communion has 41 full member churches, known as provinces; and five “extra-provincial churches” – the Church of Ceylon, the Church of Bermuda, the Lusitanian Church, the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain and the Church in the Falkland Islands. These five extra-provincial churches look to the Archbishop of Canterbury for Metropolitical episcopal oversight.

Archbishop Justin said: “I should say that although I regard it as a privilege to have been entrusted with this important function in the life of the Church of Ceylon, as its ‘Metropolitan’, it is not a role I have sought, or feel comfortable having to exercise. In my view, it carries too many reminders of a colonial past. I have therefore sought and obtained from Father Dushantha his assurance that he will give urgent priority to enabling the Church of Ceylon to take its proper place as a fully independent province in the life of the wider Anglican Communion.

“So I commend Father Dushantha to your prayers as he embarks on this demanding new stage in his ministry.”

At their meeting in Jordan in January, the Primates of the Anglican Communion noted progress towards an Anglican province in Sri Lanka.

Responding to today’s announcement, the bishop-designate said: “The Church of Ceylon Diocese of Colombo in all its richness and vibrant faith is called upon to witness as it has done through the past 175 years as a community that will strive to be obedient to the Gospel in its walk of faith and service in the days to come.

“As we look to the next decade in the midst of new realities our lives must reflect what God is doing in our midst at this point of time. To a God who has been gracious and merciful we need to sing an unending hymn of praise and extend to one another a magnanimous gesture of kindness that will carry us through to be faithful in the midst of many a challenge.

“Our people who are so diverse live side by side and strive to bring meaning to every moment and we are truly blessed to be part of that life giving diversity.”