09/19/2014, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Card Ranjith: Joseph Vaz as saint, a missionary example for the Church in Sri Lanka

The archbishop of Colombo tells AsiaNews that he hopes to see Pope Francis celebrate the canonisation during his visit next January to the former Ceylon. "In the chocking effect of secularism and religious indifferentism, the life of the blessed will be a strong indication for our people of where our options ought to be.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The canonisation of Blessed Joseph Vaz will "encourage the Catholic community" of Sri Lanka and "serve as an example for the people to be committed to the challenge of their faith mission," said Card Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo and president of the Bishops' Conference.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, he talked the value, meaning and joy for the declaration of the sanctity of the Apostle of Sri Lanka.

On the possibility that the ceremony might take place during the apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the country (13-15 January), the cardinal admits, "Certainly, we would be very happy if His Holiness could do so, especially during the public Holy Mass he will be celebrating in the Galle Face Green in Colombo on the 14th January 2015."

What is the value of Joseph Vaz's canonisation for the Church in Sri Lanka?

Blessed Joseph Vaz was truly a gift of God to the Church in Sri Lanka especially during the time of intense suffering for the minute Catholic community in the 17th and 18th centuries.

He heroically left behind his motherland and people, feeling a profound urge to help the Catholics in our country. Making an arduous journey, he came to Sri Lanka and went through many difficulties, serving zealously the spiritual needs of our people. He thus protected and saved the Catholic faith on this island.

He is the best example of a selfless, completely dedicated and loving missionary shaped in the image of Christ.  Thus, his canonisation will not only encourage the Catholic community but also serve as an example for the people to be committed to the challenge of their faith mission.

Besides this, he will also be now an even more powerful intercessor for the Church in Sri Lanka, the Church he loved so much. 

In the midst of the choking effect of secularism and religious indifferentism, which are worse forms of marginalisation of religion, the Blessed Joseph Vaz's life will be a strong indication for our people of where our options ought to be.

What is the feeling among the faithful?  

There is a great spirit of joy among all our faithful for this news. We are ever so grateful to the Holy Father for this gift that he has deigned to give us through this gesture and we look forward to the day that we can celebrate, give witness and live the life of this Saint in our own time.  The Sri Lankan Church is overjoyed by this news.

Do you think that pope Francis will celebrate the canonisation during his visit in Sri Lanka?

Certainly, we would be very happy if His Holiness could do so, especially during the public Holy Mass he will be celebrating in the Galle Face Green in Colombo on the 14th January 2015. Incidentally, the 16th of January happens also to be the feast day of the Saint. (GM)

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