02/24/2016, 15.15
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Booklet about Pope Francis’ visit to Sri Lanka to serve as engine of reconciliation

by Melani Manel Perera

A group of religious and lay Catholics published a 12-page booklet in Tamil, Sinhalese and English with the highlights of five speeches by Pope Francis and President Sirisena. The purpose of the visit to Sri Lanka was "primarily pastoral" and the focus of the pope’s speeches was "truth and reconciliation”.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Alliance for Justice (AFJ), a group of Catholic priests, religious and lay people, presented the first booklet on the pastoral visit Pope Francis made to the island nation in January 2015.

Titled Remembering the Papal Visit, the 12-page booklet (in Tamil, Sinhalese and English) contains the salient points of the five speeches made by Pope Francis and President Maithripala Sirisena, who had been elected just a few days before.

The common thread in the pope’s speeches was the “pursuit for truth and reconciliation”. The booklet was distributed throughout the country via Caritas.

“The papal speeches have been very helpful for reconciliation,” Fr Reid Shelton Fernando, an AFJ member, told AsiaNews. “Our intention is to make the booklet available to our people so that they may get involved in reconciliation and building social harmony. This work is not limited to leaders; it is a task for everyone."

The booklet looks at the pope’s arrival. On that occasion, Francis said, “my visit to Sri Lanka is primarily pastoral”. At the same time, “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.”

The booklet also contains President Sirisena’s welcome speech. “Your Holiness, this visit to Sri Lanka is of special significance, as my government is progressing on promoting dialogue and reconciliation amongst the people, as a means of consolidating the peace dividend.”

In view of this, “The significant contribution that Your Holiness is making to bring about peace and reconciliation among nations and communities is gratifying”, as interreligious dialogue helps “social harmony and solidarity”.

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