05/18/2010, 00.00
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President Rajapaksa thanks the bishop of Colombo for the actions of the Church

by Melani Manel Perera
Sri Lanka’s president and Mgr Ranjith, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka, meet in a warm tête-à-tête. Both hope for and are committed to state-Church co-operation to help the country’s development and the neediest social groups.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa met on 10 May Mgr Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo. After greeting him, Mr Rajapaksa thanked the prelate for the help and work carried out by the Catholic Church. In an atmosphere of great warmth, Mgr Ranjith reassured his guest that the Church is resolutely committed to the development of the country. The diocese’s website reported that the archbishop also urged the president to help the Tamil community and the regions affected by the war.

President Rajapaksa, for his part, congratulated Mgr Ranjith on his appointment on 22 April as president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka, extending his best wishes to the prelate his new responsibilities. The president also thanked the archbishop for his enduring involvement in many issues that affect the life of the country. He thanked him for asking the European Union to extend to Sri Lanka the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) clause and for urging Pope Benedict XVI to press the European Union and the international community to help Sri Lanka.

The GSP is a formal system of exemption from the general rules of the World Trade Organisation, which the European Union has extended to some 170 states and territories to give them greater access to European markets.

During the meeting, Mgr Ranjith also insisted on the necessity of finding a political solution for the Tamil community.

He added that the Archdiocese was ready to work with government schools in the Western Province to ensure that all children have access to a good education. The President thanked the Archbishop for this initiative.

Lastly, the two men discussed ways to develop the fisheries sector and help fishermen get the most up-to-date equipment and latest technology.

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