He studied Theology in Rome and specialized in Holy Scripture. He also helped prepare John Paul II's trip to Sri Lanka in 1995. After working in rural areas for many years, he returned to Rome to work in the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
CARD. MALCOLM RANJITH PATABENDIGE
Archbishop of Colombo (Sri Lanka)
"In modern society, men have become so mechanical and technical that everybody thinks, they have to make things plain and simple, and visible and not to keep any room for a mystical aura or secrecy or areas of the Sacred, because it is not necessary. 'Now we have removed the veil', people say. 'After Illumination we have removed the veil'. But that is not true as much as you think like that. Even to a greater extent, modern man is looking for symbols. It’s going after symbols. The people are going to the East to look for something more mystic, something more profound.”
Under the appointment of John Paul II, he served as a nuncio in Indonesia. He directly witnessed the 2004 Tsunami that destroyed everything in its path.
He eventually went back to the Vatican to work in the Congregation for Divine Worship. In 2009 Benedict XVI named him archbishop of Colombo, and in 2010 he was made a cardinal.