Don’t politicise Pope’s visit, urges Church

Saturday, 13 September 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Cardinal formally announces Pope Francis’ visit to Lanka
  • Roman Catholic Church appeals to Govt. and Opposition not to use Pope’s visit as political tool
  • Advises Government to refrain from electioneering during Pontiff’s tour
  • Pontiff to be driven in open motorcade to Colombo
  • Will hold masses at Galle Face and Madhu Church in the north
A large poster of Pope Francis figure in the background at the press conference yesterday chaired by Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith (centre) to formally announce the 13 January 2015 visit by the Pope – Pic by Kithsiri de Mel By Dharisha Bastians The Catholic Church yesterday formally announced the visit of Pope Francis to Sri Lanka in January 2015, and urged the State to ensure there would be no electioneering activity during the Pontiff’s tour. His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, has urged the Government and the Opposition to refrain from using Pope Francis’ visit as a political tool, amid speculation that snap presidential polls will be declared early next year. “We have clearly informed the President that it is not suitable to have an election campaign during the Pope’s visit,” Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said, adding election related propaganda should not be used while the Pope is in the country. Announcing the Pontiff’s itinerary during a press conference at Bishop’s House in Colombo yesterday, the Cardinal said Pope Francis would arrive in Sri Lanka on 13 January for a two-day visit. The Pontiff’s visit will be themed ‘Abide in Love,’ the Church said, unveiling a special logo for Pope Francis’ tour of Sri Lanka. An official website ( has also been launched by the church. His Holiness would be accorded a State Welcome, as sovereign of Vatican City and will travel in an open motorcade to the capital Colombo along the Negombo Road, the Catholic Church announced. The Pontiff will hold a public mass at Galle Face Green in Colombo at 8:30 a.m. on 14 January, the Cardinal said. On the same day, Pope Francis will also travel to the Madhu Church in the Northern Province, one of the holiest sites for Roman Catholics in the country that is situated in the former war zone. The Pope will hold a special mass at Madhu Church at 3:30 p.m. on 14 January 2015, and also hold discussions with Mannar Bishop Rev. Rayappu Joseph during his tour of the north.