2015-01-08 15:35:00

Sri Lankan bishop: Catholics are thrilled about Papal visit

(Vatican Radio)  Bishop Joseph Ponniah is Bishop of Batticaloa in eastern Sri Lanka and he says local Catholics are “thrilled” about Pope Francis’ 3-day visit to the island from January 13th-15th. At the same time, he said many Sri Lankans are hoping to hear a message of reconciliation from the Pope because many wounds from the nation’s long-running civil war have yet to be healed, especially among the minority Tamil community. He spoke to Susy Hodges.

During his visit to Sri Lanka, Pope Francis is due to canonize blessed Joseph Vaz, a 17th century priest from India who played a leading role in building up the island’s Catholic community after years of persecution. Bishop Ponniah expressed his joy about this upcoming canonization of their “local saint,” saying Sri Lankans are hoping to hear from the Pope a message of peace and reconciliation which he said the local people “long for” after so many decades of civil war and “a lot of suffering” during that conflict. He also expressed concern about the impact of the presidential elections, taking place just days before the Pope’s arrival, saying that he feared some people could use this event to stir up “divisions.”

Listen to the full interview with Bishop Joseph Ponniah of Batticaloa in Sri Lanka: 

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