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Day: January 13, 2015

Pope: religion must never be abused in the cause of war

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis underlined the significance and urgency of interreligious and ecumenical dialogue in a nation, like Sri Lanka, that is undergoing a process of reconciliation after civil war.
Speaking on the first full day of his apostolic journey to Sri Lanka, Pope Francis addressed an interreligious and ecumenical gathering and reaffirmed the Church’s deep and abiding respect for other religions. 
To the spiritual leaders present at the gathering, the Pope said “at this moment of your nation’s history (…)  May the growing spirit of cooperation between the leaders of the various religious communities find expression in a commitment to put reconciliation among all Sri Lankans at the heart of every effort to renew society and its institutions”.
“For the sake of peace” the Pope said, “religious beliefs must never be allowed to be abused in the cause of violence and war.  We must be clear and unequivocal in challenging our communities to live fully the tenets of peace and coexistence found in each religion, and to denounce acts of violence when they are committed”.
Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ Address to the Interreligious and Ecumenical Gathering in Colombo:   
Dear Friends,
    I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this meeting which brings together, among others, the four largest religious communities integral to the life of Sri Lanka: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.  I thank you for your presence and for your warm welcome.  I also thank those who have offered prayers and blessings, and in a particular way I express my gratitude to Bishop Cletus Chandrasiri Perera and to the Venerable Vigithasiri Niyangoda Thero for their kind words.
    I have come to Sri Lanka in the footsteps of my predecessors Popes Paul VI and John Paul II to demonstrate the great love and concern which the Catholic Church has for Sri Lanka.  It is a particular grace for me to visit the Catholic community here, to confirm them in their Christian faith, to pray with them and to share their joys and sufferings.  It is equally a grace to be with all of you, men and women of these great religious traditions, who share with us a desire for wisdom, truth and holiness.
    At the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church declared her deep and abiding respect for other religions.  She stated that she “rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions.  She has a high regard for their manner of life and conduct, their precepts and doctrines” (Nostra Aetate, 2).  For my part, I wish to reaffirm the Church’s sincere respect for you, your traditions and beliefs.
    It is in this spirit of respect that the Catholic Church desires to cooperate with you, and with all people of good will, in seeking the welfare of all Sri Lankans.  I hope that my visit will help to encourage and deepen the various forms of interreligious and ecumenical cooperation which have been undertaken in recent years.
    These praiseworthy initiatives have provided opportunities for dialogue, which is essential if we are to know, understand and respect one another.  But, as experience has shown, for such dialogue and encounter to be effective, it must be grounded in a full and forthright presentation of our respective convictions.  Certainly, such dialogue will accentuate how varied our beliefs, traditions and practices are.  But if we are honest in presenting our convictions, we will be able to see more clearly what we hold in common.  New avenues will be opened for mutual esteem, cooperation and indeed friendship.
    Such positive developments in interreligious and ecumenical relations take on a particular significance and urgency in Sri Lanka.  For too many years the men and women of this country have been victims of civil strife and violence.  What is needed now is healing and unity, not further conflict and division.  Surely the fostering of healing and unity is a noble task which is incumbent upon all who have at heart the good of the nation, and indeed the whole human family.  It is my hope that interreligious and ecumenical cooperation will demonstrate that men and women do not have to forsake their identity, whether ethnic or religious, in order to live in harmony with their brothers and sisters. 
 
    How many ways there are for the followers of the different religions to carry out this service!  How many are the needs that must be tended to with the healing balm of fraternal solidarity!  I think in particular of the material and spiritual needs of the poor, the destitute, those who yearn for a word of consolation and hope.  Here I think too of the many families who continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones.
    Above all, at this moment of your nation’s history, how many people of good will are seeking to rebuild the moral foundations of society as a whole?  May the growing spirit of cooperation between the leaders of the various religious communities find expression in a commitment to put reconciliation among all Sri Lankans at the heart of every effort to renew society and its institutions.  For the sake of peace, religious beliefs must never be allowed to be abused in the cause of violence and war.  We must be clear and unequivocal in challenging our communities to live fully the tenets of peace and coexistence found in each religion, and to denounce acts of violence when they are committed.
    Dear friends, I thank you once again for your generous welcome and your attention.  May this fraternal encounter confirm all of us in our efforts to live in harmony and to spread the blessings of peace.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope: religion must never be abused in the cause of war

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis underlined the significance and urgency of interreligious and ecumenical dialogue in a nation, like Sri Lanka, that is undergoing a process of reconciliation after civil war. Speaking on the first full day of his apostolic journey to Sri Lanka, Pope Francis addressed an interreligious and ecumenical gathering and reaffirmed the Church’s…
Read more

Pope Francis arrives in Sri Lanka to thunderous welcome

Pope Francis has just begun his Apostolic Visit to Sri Lanka. Radio Vatican’s envoy, Fr. Louis Xystus Jerome sent us this report: The moment he alighted from the flight, a boy and a girl welcomed the Holy Father with a garland of flowers – white and yellow in colour, signifying the colours of the Vatican.…
Read more

Pope Francis arrives in Sri Lanka to thunderous welcome

Pope Francis has just begun his Apostolic Visit to Sri Lanka. Radio Vatican’s envoy, Fr. Louis Xystus Jerome sent us this report:
The moment he alighted from the flight, a boy and a girl welcomed the Holy Father with a garland of flowers – white and yellow in colour, signifying the colours of the Vatican.
Then the new President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena and his wife welcomed him, followed by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and other dignitaries. As the Holy Father was walking along the red carpet, a baby elephant was there to welcome him. Children dressed in traditional attire representing different religions waved miniature flags of the Vatican and Sri Lanka. Dancers on either side of the red carpet were performing traditional dances.
When the Holy Father along with the President took the podium, anthems of the Vatican and Sri Lanka were played. During these anthems, the soldiers saluted the Holy Father.
After this, there was the 21 gun salute normally reserved for heads of state. Following this, a group of children, young men and women – all clad in blue, sang the welcome song in various languages – English, Sinhala, Tamil and Italian.
The new President Sirisena gave the welcome address. This is the very first public speech of the new president  -welcoming the Holy Father as the first dignitary visiting Sri Lanka.  The Holy Father then delivered his first speech in Sri Lanka. The very first point that the Holy Father made was, that this visit was pastoral.  After the welcome speeches and ceremony, the president introduced the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers to Pope Francis. Then Cardinal Ranjith introduced members of the Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka.
The welcome ceremony came to a close with the Holy Father writing a few lines and signing in the Golden Book. 
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: encounter, encouragement, prayer

( Vatican Radio) Pope Francis arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Tuesday morning, at the beginning of a week-long visit to Asia that will see him in both Sri Lanka and the Philippines. The Holy Father arrived to pomp and circumstance: traditional dancers, a children’s choir performing an especially composed hymn to mark the visit, as well as the execution of the anthems of the Holy See and Sri Lanka by the military band, along with a 21-gun salute.
Click below to hear our report

The newly-elected and installed President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, offered official words of greeting to Pope Francis, thanking him for the visit and asking his blessing upon himself and his whole nation and people:
It is indeed significant that Your Holiness has commenced this apostolic journey to Asia with a visit to Sri Lanka.  Your visit is also particularly significant to me personally, as I have been elected to the office of President only few days ago. The visit of Your Holiness gives me an opportunity to receive your blessings as I commence my term of office.
The visit of Pope Francis to the island nation, known as “the pearl of the Indian ocean ” for its natural beauty, comes as Sri Lankans work to heal the scars of a decades-long civil war that ended in 2009. The need for genuine reconciliation in order to achieve justice and true, lasting peace, was a focal point of the Holy Father’s own remarks at the welcome ceremony :
It is a continuing tragedy in our world that so many communities are at war with themselves.  The inability to reconcile differences and disagreements, whether old or new, has given rise to ethnic and religious tensions, frequently accompanied by outbreaks of violence.  Sri Lanka for many years knew the horrors of civil strife, and is now seeking to consolidate peace and to heal the scars of those years.  It is no easy task to overcome the bitter legacy of injustices, hostility and mistrust left by the conflict.  It can only be done by overcoming evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21) and by cultivating those virtues which foster reconciliation, solidarity and peace.  The process of healing also needs to include the pursuit of truth, not for the sake of opening old wounds, but rather as a necessary means of promoting justice, healing and unity.
The role of religious believers in fostering peace and furthering the common good was another theme of the Holy Father’s remarks:
Dear friends, I am convinced that the followers of the various religious traditions have an essential role to play in the delicate process of reconciliation and rebuilding which is taking place in this country.  For that process to succeed, 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.  Most importantly, they must be prepared to accept one another, to respect legitimate diversities, and learn to live as one family.  Whenever people listen to one another humbly and openly, their shared values and aspirations become all the more apparent.  Diversity is no longer seen as a threat, but as a source of enrichment.  The path to justice, reconciliation and social harmony becomes all the more clearly seen.
The centerpiece of the Holy Father’s visit to Sri Lanka is the canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz, a 17 th and early 18 th century priest, who was great hero of the cause of the Gospel in Sri Lanka – a cause that is very much alive and in the service of the whole Sri Lankan people in this day:
My visit to Sri Lanka is primarily pastoral.  As the universal pastor of the Catholic Church, I have come to meet, encourage and pray with the Catholic people of this island.  A highlight of this visit will be the canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz, whose example of Christian charity and respect for all people, regardless of ethnicity or religion, continues to inspire and teach us today.  But my visit is also meant to express the Church’s love and concern for all Sri Lankans, and to confirm the desire of the Catholic community to be an active participant in the life of this society.
The canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz is to take place during an open-air Mass in Colombo on Wednesday.
(from Vatican Radio)…