Fr. Lombardi and the Francis effect on Sri Lankans
(Vatican Radio) Jesuit Father Louis Jerome is currently in Sri Lanka reporting on the first leg of the Apostolic journey of Pope Francis to Asia which takes him to this island nation and then on to the Philippines on Thursday 15th of January.
At the end of the second day of this visit on January14th, Father Jerome asked his fellow Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi who heads the Vatican Press Office to highlight some of the events of the Pope’s second day there.
Listen to Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi:
Father Lombardi began by shining the spotlight on the canonisation mass of seventeenth century Oratorian Father Joseph Vaz which he described as the most important event of the day at a pastoral level. Father Vaz he said, is a model of evangelisation, who served the poor, the sick and more broadly healed the wounds of the people. Striking on this occasion he went on to say was the importance the Catholics present paid to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
In this interview Father Lombardi also highlighted the second moment of the day at the Marian Shrine of Madhu which he described as the most touching of the events on Tuesday from his personal point of view. It was he says a moment of prayerful devotion attended by over 300.000 people. One during which Pope Francis seemed visibly at ease and very ‘happy’ to be in this Marian shrine, the Mother of God he added is very near to his heart. Furthermore during this celebration attended by Sri Lankans from various linguistic groups the overall impression he remarked, was one of unity and harmony. And the presence there of Buddhist monks, enhanced the overall atmosphere of sincere reconciliation and love.
Beyond these two main events, in this interview Father Lombardi also pointed to conversion and forgiveness as inherent in all of the speeches or homilies delivered by Pope Francis in Sri Lanka. Not just for the Church but also more broadly in terms of society at large in this island nation.
Father Lombardi then spoke to Father Jerome of an event which recalled the inter-faith meeting on January 13th in Colombo. Pope Francis, he said is a man who believes in “personal encounters” and accomplished a further concrete sign of dialogue on Wednesday evening by visiting a Buddhist Temple.
A busy evening then as Father Lombardi recounted, as he also paid a courtesy visit to the former President of the nation as well as meet with the bishops of Sri Lanka to whom he expressed his gratitude for the growth of the mission in this land.