Vatican City (
AsiaNews) - In Sri Lanka, "much work needs to be done to promote
reconciliation, to respect the human rights of all the people and to overcome
the ethnic tensions that remain" after years of war, states Pope Francis
in his address to the bishops of the country received today for their
five-yearly "ad limina" visit.
Despite there being "a new dawn of hope" visible, the Pope also notes that religious extremists "in promoting a false sense of national unity based on a single religious identity, have created tensions through various acts of intimidation and violence". In this context, " can provide an atmosphere of dialogue that seeks to construct a more just and equitable society". One contribution to this goal is represented by the priests , "a great blessing and a direct fruit of the seeds missionaries planted a long time ago". "The Catholics of Sri Lanka wish to contribute, together with the various elements of society, to the work of reconciliation and rebuilding. One such contribution is the promotion of unity. Indeed, as the country seeks to come together and heal, the Church is uniquely positioned to provide a living image of unity in the faith as she is blessed to count both Sinhalese and Tamil among her number. In parishes and schools, in social programmes and other institutions of the Church, Sinhalese and Tamil find opportunities to live, study, work and worship together".
Another of the Church's important tasks is its work in the field of charity. The Pope recalled the work of the national Caritas' after the 2004 tsunami in efforts of reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction. Its commitment in the fields of education, healthcare and assistance to the poor, he said, is also important. In the general context of economic growth, " this prophetic witness of service and compassion becomes even more important: it shows that the poor must not be forgotten nor inequality permitted to grow".
Problems linked to the financial crisis and war, finally, have severely affected families. "Many have lost their employment and so families have been separated as spouses leave their homes to find work". "There is also the great challenge and increasing reality of mixed marriages, which require greater attention to preparation and assistance to couples in providing for the faith formation of their children. When we are attentive to our families and their needs, when we understand their difficulties and hopes, we strengthen the Church's witness and proclamation of the Gospel. Particularly by supporting marital love and fidelity, we help the faithful to live their vocation freely and joyfully, and we open new generations to the life of Christ and his Church".