Malcolm Ranjith

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Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don
Cardinal, Archbishop of Colombo
SeeColombo, Sri Lanka
Appointed16 June 2009
Installed5 August 2009
PredecessorOswald Gomis
Other post(s)Cardinal-Priest of S. Lorenzo in Lucina
Ordination29 June 1975
by Pope Paul VI
Consecration17 June 1991
by Nicholas Fernando
Created cardinal20 November 2010
by Benedict XVI
RankCardinal Priest
Personal details
Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don

(1947-11-15) 15 November 1947 (age 76)
NationalitySri Lankan
DenominationRoman Catholic
ParentsWilliam and Mary Winifreeda
Previous post(s)
Coat of armsAlbert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don's coat of arms

Patabendige Albert Malcolm Ranjith (Sinhala: පටබැඳිගේ දොන් ඇල්බට් මැල්කම් රංජිත්) (born 15 November 1947), known as Malcolm Ranjith, is a Sri Lankan prelate of the Catholic Church who has been the Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, since 2009. He was made a cardinal in 2010.

Ranjith previously served as auxiliary bishop of Colombo (1991–1995), Bishop of Ratnapura (1995–2001), Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (2001–2004), Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia and East Timor (2004–2005), and Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2005–2009).

Early life and education[edit]

Ranjith was born Patabendige Albert Malcolm Ranjith on 15 November 1947 in Polgahawela, in what was then British Ceylon, the eldest and only boy of four children.[1] He has attributed his first interest in becoming a priest to the example set by a French missionary priest assigned to his parish. He studied in Rome, earning a degree in theology from the Pontifical Urban College and a licentiate from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in 1978, followed by postdoctoral work at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.[2]

On 29 June 1975, Malcolm Ranjith was ordained to the priesthood by Pope Paul VI in St. Peter's Square. Later he joined the tutorial staff of St. Thomas' College, Kotte.[3]

First appointments in Sri Lanka[edit]

Pope John Paul II appointed him auxiliary bishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and titular bishop of Cabarsussi on 17 June 1991. He received his episcopal consecration on 31 August 1991[4] from Nicholas Fernando, Archbishop of Colombo.

In 1994, Ranjith led a commission that denounced the theological work of Sri Lankan theologian Tissa Balasuriya. He charged that he had questioned original sin and the divinity of Christ, as well as supporting women's ordination. Ranjith was supported in this position by Cardinal Ratzinger.[2]

He was responsible for coordinating the visit of Pope John Paul to Sri Lanka in January 1995.[2] On 2 November 1995 Pope John Paul named him the first bishop of the newly created Diocese of Ratnapura, Sri Lanka.[4]

Diplomatic and curial posts[edit]

On 1 October 2001 Pope John Paul assigned him to the post of adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.[4] He was also named head of the Pontifical Mission Societies.[2]

He was appointed titular archbishop of Umbriatico and the Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia and to East Timor on 29 April 2004.[5] Ranjith was the first Sri Lankan to be appointed an apostolic nuncio.[2][a]

Ranjith was appointed secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on 10 December 2005.[6] He developed a reputation as a liturgical conservative. He held that receiving communion in the hand was a "illegitimate" practice never envisioned by the Second Vatican Council. He criticized bishops who did not promptly make provision for the celebration of Mass in Latin when Pope Benedict authorized it in 2006, calling it "rebellion against the pope".[2]

He once said, "I'm not a fan of the Lefebvrians ... but what they sometimes say about the liturgy they say for good reason."[7]

Ranjith is fluent in ten languages namely; Italian, French, German, Hebrew, Greek, Spanish, Latin, English, Sinhala and Tamil.

Styles of
Albert Malcolm Ranjith
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Archbishop of Colombo[edit]

On 16 June 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Metropolitan Archbishop of Colombo.[8][9]

Ranjith was among 34 metropolitan archbishops to receive his pallium from Pope Benedict on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on 29 June 2009.[10]

On 7 October 2009, Ranjith issued liturgical guidelines for his diocese. These included a recommendation for "all faithful, including the religious, to receive Holy Communion reverently kneeling and on the tongue", as well as laymen being forbidden from preaching.[11]


On 20 October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI announced he would make Ranjith a cardinal at a consistory scheduled for 20 November 2010.[12] He was given the rank of cardinal priest and assigned the titular church of San Lorenzo in Lucina.[13]

Ranjith participated as a cardinal-elector in the 2013 conclave which elected Pope Francis.[14]

Ranjith is a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.[15]


  1. ^ His appointment was unusual in that, unlike almost all nuncios, he was not a graduate of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.[2]


  1. ^ "Patabendige Don Card. Albert Malcolm Ranjith". Holy See Press Office. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 13 June 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Allen Jr., John L. (28 February 2013). "Papabile of the Day: The Men Who Could Be Pope". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  3. ^ Fernando, Shemal (15 November 2009). "Most Rev. Dr. Malcolm Ranjith: God's chosen Chief Shepherd for Sri Lanka". Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka). Archived from the original on 29 October 2013.
  4. ^ a b c "Patabendige Don, Albert Malcolm Ranjith". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 8 June 2023.
  5. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 29.04.2004" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 27 April 2004. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 10.12.2005" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 10 December 2005. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Liturgy and the poor, the treasures of the Church". Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  8. ^ "Other Pontifical Acts, 16 June 2009". Vatican Information Service. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Benedict to Ranjith: "Sincere Thanks" for Fidelity and Competence in CDW Role". Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  10. ^ "Being a Pastor Means Being Available to Others". Vatican Information Service. 29 June 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  11. ^ "Archdiocese of Colombo". Archived from the original on 18 October 2009. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
  12. ^ "Annuncio di Concistoro per la Creazione di Nuovi Cardinale 20.10.2010". Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  13. ^ "Assegnazione dei Titoli e delle Diaconie ai nuovi Cardinali" [Assignment of Titles and Deaconries to the new Cardinals]. The Holy See (in Italian). Ufficio delle Celebrazioni Liturgiche del Sommo Pontefice. 20 November 2010. Archived from the original on 13 December 2019. Retrieved 8 June 2023.
  14. ^ "Cardinal electors – Conclave of March 2013 – Arranged in alphabetical order". Salvador Miranda. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  15. ^ "NOMINA DI CARDINALI MEMBRI DEI DICASTERI DELLA CURIA ROMANA". Archived from the original on 18 January 2012.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Arnaldo Clemente Canale
Titular Bishop of Cabarsussi
17 June 1991 – 2 November 1995
Succeeded by
José María Pinheiro
Diocese created Bishop of Ratnapura
2 November 1995 – 1 October 2001
Succeeded by
Harold Anthony Perera
Position created Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
1 October 2001 – 29 April 2004
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Joseph Hisajiro Matsunaga
Titular Archbishop of Umbriatico
29 April 2004 – 16 June 2009
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
10 December 2005 – 16 June 2009
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of Colombo
16 June 2009 –
Preceded by
Joseph Vianney Fernando
President of the Sri Lankan Episcopal Conference
22 April 2010 – 21 February 2017
Succeeded by
Julian Winston Sebastian Fernando
Preceded by Cardinal-Priest of San Lorenzo in Lucina
20 November 2010 –
No prior officeholder Vice-President of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences
1 January 2019 –
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia
29 April 2004 – 10 December 2005
Succeeded by
Apostolic Nuncio to Timor-Leste
29 April 2004 – 10 December 2005