Sri Lankan Excommunicated

Catholic theologian and priest Tissa Balasuriya was excommunicated for heresy from the Roman Catholic Church in January. The Sri Lankan, who has been a member of the Oblate order for 51 years, is the founder of the Center for Society and Religion in Colombo, which works to contextualize Catholic dogma to better address the realities of Asian society and culture.

In his book Mary and Human Liberation, Balasuriya challenged the traditional Catholic conception of Mary as being "too docile." He also questioned the tenet of original sin, writing that in Asia "the idea of humans being born alienated from the Creator would seem an abominable concept."

The Vatican’s action is the harshest applied to a theologian in recent times. Many who don’t agree with Balasuriya’s challenge of fundamental Catholic dogma think that the Vatican’s penalty has caused more controversy than his book, which sold 600 copies. Balasuriya appealed the decision to Pope John Paul II.

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