Pope Francis concluded the 1st day of his visit to Sri Lanka on January 13 with an address to an inter-religious meeting, at which he said that dialogue will be productive only “if we are honest in presenting our convictions.”
After an airport arrival ceremony on Tuesday morning, the Pope cancelled plans for lunch with the Catholic bishops of Sri Lanka. Officials said that the Pontiff was exhausted after his flight from Rome and a long ride in an open-top car on a hot, sunny day. But he revived in time for the inter-religious meeting, which went longer than scheduled.
Buddhists in the conference hall in Colombo chanted a welcome to the Pope, and a Hindu leader presented him with a bright orange cape. Muslims and representatives of other Christian communities were also present among the 1,000 people at the meeting.
In his address the Pope recalled the teaching of Vatican II, proclaiming the Church’s “deep and abiding respect for other religions.” He expressed his hope that his own visit would help to encourage inter-religious cooperation, and help to heal a society torn by a long civil war.
“Surely the fostering of healing and unity is a noble task which is incumbent upon all who have at heart the good of the nation, and indeed the whole human family,” the Pope said.
“For the sake of peace, religious beliefs must never be allowed to be abused in the cause of violence and war,” the Pope stressed later in his presentation. He insisted that all religious leaders should “denounce acts of violence when they are committed.” (Catholic Culture)