(Vatican Radio) Travelling with Pope Francis on his pastoral visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines this week is the head of the Holy See press office, Fr Federico Lombardi. He talked to our colleague and correspondent for this trip, Fr Louis Xystus Jerome, about his impressions of the first events on the Pope’s agenda following his arrival in Colombo on Tuesday….
Fr Lombardi said the first day of the visit was a very positive surprise for him as he had not expected such a wonderful reception for the Pope. He said the atmosphere with the new president, following the peaceful elections in Sri Lanka, is “very positive with expectations of something new in the sense of reconciliation” and the rights of minorities. The Pope, he continued, brings encouragement and inspiration, so that the president is right when he says the visit is also a blessing for him at the very beginning of his mission
Fr Lombardi also commented on the interreligious encounter on Tuesday with a large presence of Buddhist monks who did not attend a similar meeting during the visit of John Paul II to the island twenty years ago. He noted that there were more than a thousand religious leaders at the meeting with Pope Francis and he said this had a real impact in a society like Sri Lanka where “people are attentive to the religious dimension”. The Pope comes as a Christian leader, in harmony with the Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim leaders on the island and this “is something historic for the people here”.
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