- Published on Saturday, 07 September 2013 00:48
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Reverend Father Benedict Joseph, the spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Colombo has confirmed that Pope Francis I would visit Sri Lanka.
The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has already approved the visit and the Archdiocese is expected to announce the dates of the tour in near future.
Fr. Benedict Joseph has said that Pope Francis I is very eager to visit the island.
According to formalities the local Catholic Church needs an agreement with the government and once agreed the Bishops' Conference must issue a formal invitation to the Pope to visit the country.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa also extended an invitation last month to Pope Francis I to visit Sri Lanka.
The invitation came days after Pope Francis, at a press conference, indicated that he may consider a visit to Sri Lanka as a part of an Asian tour.
In his letter the President stated that on behalf of the Government and the people of Sri Lanka, he considers it a great privilege and an honour to extend to Your Holiness an invitation to undertake a visit to this beautiful country, which only recently emerged from three decades of conflict.
The President said that "A visit by Your Holiness to Sri Lanka would be a momentous occasion to all Sri Lankans, and I earnestly hope I will soon have the honour of welcoming Your Holiness to our shores."
The message also stated "Since Your Holiness was elected as the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church in March this year, the people of Sri Lanka have witnessed the humility, compassion, wisdom, and devotion with which Your Holiness has been conducting papal duties."
The President also pointed out in his letter "The Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has played a pivotal role over the years in improving the lives of the citizenry, particularly in the fields of education, healthcare and social service, and the Church's services for acceleration of post-conflict reconstruction, reconciliation and restoration of livelihoods of affected communities are well recognized."
This is the third time a Pope is visiting the island. Pope Paul VI visited Sri Lanka in 1970, and Pope John Paul II visited the island in 1995 to preside over the religious rites in the Beatification of Sri Lankan missionary Fr. Joseph Vaz. Sri Lanka and the Holy See established formal diplomatic relations in 1976.(niz)