THE "cold war" between
Ceylon's Catholics and the island's government may be intensified after the national elections to be held on March 22, although Catholics number only 800,000 in a largely Buddhist population of 10 million.
The "cold war" is not the result of direct persecution of the Catholic Church. It is more due to the strained relations resulting from actions of Mrs.
Sirimavo Bandaranaike's government. These include: • In five years the government has nationalised all but 40 of the country's Catholic schools; • Catholic nursing sisters have been ousted from the hospitals; • No more foreign missionaries will be admitted after May 30; • Individual Catholics are facing discrimination, especially in government employment.
Added to ',this is the antiCatholic drive of the extremist Buddhists. It was common agita tion by C inuntimists and the Roddhist emit:mists which led in 1963 to a special government com
mittee investigating Catholic Action organisations.
Although Mrs. Bandaranaike's Sri Lanka Freedom party is not itself Communist, it is far to the left of the British Labour party, to which it has often been compared. It rules in coalition with the Trotskyite party, whose members provide the coalition's intellectual leadership. The regime is being supported in pre-election campaigns by the orthodox Cornmonist party.
Rut the government has not a completely "iron hand" — hence the coming elections. In recent months the government and the Buddhists have been in sharp disagreement over the regime's attempt to curb Press freedom.
That effort suffered a setback last December when some members of the Freedom party defected and Parliament defeated a government. Press Bill. This led to the call for an election.
Ceylonese Catholics fear that an election returning the present regime will see the government move even closer to the Communist bloc, with even some possibility of a Marxist take-over. The Catholics too, have been concerned about some of the reports being circulated about ChurchState relations