Pope Concerned Over Extremists In Lanka
Pope Francis yesterday took note of the rise of religious extremists in Sri Lanka who he says, in promoting a false sense of national unity based on a single religious identity, have created tensions through various acts of intimidation and violence.
“Though these tensions may threaten inter-religious and ecumenical relations, the Church in Sri Lanka must remain steadfast in seeking partners in peace and interlocutors in dialogue. Acts of intimidation also affect the Catholic community, and so it is ever more necessary to confirm the people in their faith,” he said.
Pope Francis said this when he met with the bishops of Sri Lanka led by Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith as part of their ad Limina Apostolorum visit, the Vatican Radio reported.
In his address, the Pope encouraged the bishops in their efforts of reconciliation and healing of the nation after more than 25 years of civil war in the island. Observing that the Church counts among its faithful both sides of the civil war, the Pope remarked that, “as the country seeks to come together and heal, the Church is uniquely positioned to provide a living image of unity in the faith.”
The Pope praised the Church’s charitable work, especially the work of Caritas Sri Lanka which provided much aid following the 2004 tsunami. He then reminded the bishops to continue the work for the poor, recalling his recent letter Evangelii Gaudium where he says, “until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence.”
The pope noted the rich diversity of religious traditions and commended the bishops in their fruit-bearing efforts in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. In the face of on-going violence by certain groups of religious extremists, he encouraged the church “to remain steadfast in seeking partners in peace and interlocutors in dialogue.”
The pope went on to praise the Church’s initiatives of developing small communities centered on the Word of God as a way to encourage piety and “assuring the faithful of the closeness of Christ and his Church to them.”