SRI LANKA: Pope’s Asia Tour Kicks off With a Call for Reconciliation

COLOMBO, JANUARY 13, 2015(CISA) – Pope Francis weeklong Asian tour started in Sri Lanka with a reconciliatory message calling for pursue of truth for the injustices committed during the country’s ethnic civil war.

“The process of healing also needs to include the pursuit of truth,” said the Pope upon his arrival in Colombo, reported Zenit.

“All members of society must work together; all must have a voice. All must be free to express their concerns, their needs, their aspirations and their fears,” added the pontiff.

Pope Francis explained that his visit is “primarily pastoral” and that he has come “to pray with the Catholic people of this island” and according to the Vatican, the pontiff’s visit will focus on reconciliation.

Sri Lanka is a country still recovering from a 37-year ethnic conflict that stretched from 1983 until 2009 and pitted Tamil separatists against government troops and the pope’ visit comes at a time of national tension, following last week’s presidential election.

“Sri Lanka for many years knew the horrors of civil strife and is now seeking peace,” said Pope Francis.

According to the Pope Sri Lankans must be prepared to accept one another, to respect legitimate diversities and learn to live as one family.

He further spoke of the need for the Catholic community to be an active participant in the life of this society and decried the “continuing tragedy of our world that so many communities are at war with themselves.”

The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, though a small minority, has a unique role in the country, since Catholics come from both the main ethnic groups, the Sinhalese and Tamils.

The highlight of Pope Fransis visit will be the canonization of Joseph Vaz, a missionary to Sri Lanka from India, whom he described as a model of “respect for all people, regardless of ethnicity.”

The pontiff will be in Sri Lanka until Wednesday January 14, when he departs for the Philippines.

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