12/04/2014, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Christian Association calls on Pope Francis to postpone Sri Lanka trip

by Melani Manel Perera
Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM) writes to the Holy See. Proximity of papal visit to presidential election is “risky”. "The organizers of election campaigns can use the apostolic journey as a political tool."

Colombo (AsiaNews) -  Members of the Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM) are asking Pope Francis to postpone his planned Apostolic Journey to the Asian nation.  According to the priests, sisters and lay members of CSM, the pontiff's visit is likely to be "spoiled" by its proximity to presidential elections. The group met to discuss the issue November 22 in Colombo and continues to exert pressure of any kind.

On January  8, the country is scheduled to vote. Five days later, January 13, Pope Francis will land in Colombo for his three-day visit to Sri Lanka, before heading to the Philippines.

"At first - CSM members explain- we understood that [it was common practice] that a pope did not visit a country when elections were being held a month before or after his arrival."

The population fear that "election organizers will exploit the pope's visit as a political tool." In fact, billboards and posters depicting Francis along with some candidates, as well as with the President Mahinda Rajapaksa have already appeared in the country. In many cases, they are photo-shopped images. The Christian human rights activists add:  "We do not want see the pictures of the Pope used by any politician".

In the letter addressed to "Vatican authorities," the Christian Solidarity Movement reaffirms "the singularity of Pope Francis, especially his love for the poor and marginalized. We appreciate his efforts to bring about changes in the Church."

 

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