Pope Francis calls for ‘pursuit of truth’ in Sri Lanka

Colombo: Pope Francis on Tuesday said Sri Lanka should uncover the truth about its deadly civil war with the LTTE and sought reconciliation among religious communities and respect for human rights, days after the war-time government was voted out of power in the country.
“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,” Francis said shortly after beginning his first two-day visit in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka.
“The great work of rebuilding must embrace improving infrastructures and meeting material needs, but also, and even more importantly, promoting human dignity, respect for human rights, and the full inclusion of each member of society,” he said at Bandaranaike international airport, where he was met by newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena. Francis, 78, however, didn’t comment on Sri Lanka’s refusal to cooperate with a UN investigation into alleged war crimes committed in the final months of the war.
“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,” he said. President Sirisena said his government believed in promoting peace and friendship among people.
“My government is promoting peace and friendship among our people after overcoming a cruel terrorist conflict.
We have people who believe in religious tolerance and coexistence based on centuries old religious heritage,” Sirisena said.
Francis has a busy first day, including meetings with the country’s bishops and representatives of the country’s major religious groups.
He will also canonise Sri Lanka’s first saint, the Reverend Giuseppe Vaz, a 17th century missionary credited with having revived the Catholic faith among both Sinhalese and Tamils on Wednesday.
During his visit, the Pope is expected to call for greater dialogue among people of different faiths. Pope’s pubic mass will take place tomorrow morning and will later travel to the historic Madu church in the north eastern district of Mannar.
The Pope will also visit Tamil territory to pray at a shrine beloved by both Sinhalese and Tamil faithful. The invitation for the visit was made by Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The pope went ahead with his visit despite the change of government following snap polls. The visit is the first Papal visit to Sri Lanka since January 1995. (PTI)
President Sirisena displaced Mahinda Rajapaksa, the hero of the LTTE war which claimed 30,000 lives towards the end of the ethnic conflict in 2009, in national elections earlier this month. PTI corr

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