President discusses peace building, reconciliation and climate with Pope
Vatican City: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday and held ‘cordial’ discussions.
The cordial discussions, which began with a recollection of the Pope’s visit to Sri Lanka in January this year, focused on certain aspects of the country’s recent history and the process of peace and reconciliation that is underway, with the hope that it may contribute to promoting stable social harmony, Vatican said in a statement.
Pope Francis expressed his happiness over the warm welcome and hospitality extended to him during his visit to the country and said that Sri Lanka is a beautiful island nation with friendly people.
Furthermore, the contribution of the Catholic Church in various sectors of society and the importance of interreligious dialogue were shown to be important.
Pope Francis commended the initiatives taken by the President towards peace building and reconciliation in the country.
There was also an exchange of opinions on the theme of the environment and an evaluation of the results of the Conference on climate change, recently concluded in Paris.
Pope Francis further stated that the best way to combat terrorism activities and conflicts in the world is to halt the production of military equipment.
Pope Francis talks with Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena during a private audience at the Vatican. REUTERS
President Sirisena said that the blessing of the Pope is a great strength for Sri Lanka’s path towards national reconciliation and peace and emphasised that there is a great respect for Pope Francis not only in the hearts of the Sri Lankan Catholic community but also people of other religious communities in the country as well.
The Holy Father gave President Maithripala Sirisena a wooden depiction of the “Tree of Peace,” made with two intertwined olive branches. A book written by the Holy Father about the environmental protection and Social Justice was also presented to the President.
President Sirisena subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States, and held discussions.
The Cardinal Secretary of State expressed his happiness over the Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process and assured his fullest support in this regard.
Pope Francis exchanges a gift with Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena during a private audience at the Vatican. REUTERS
The President reiterated that Sri Lanka is deeply committed to reconciliation and will continue to do so in the future too.
A detailed discussion was held regarding the development works of Sri Lanka between the President and the Cardinal Secretary of State, Parolin.
Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga, State Minister of City Planning and Water Supply Sudarshini Fernandopulle, Deputy Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Arundika Fernando, MPs Kavinda Jayawardena and Hector Appuhamy, the Deputy Head of the Prime Minister’s Office Rosy Senanayake and former MP Dayasritha Tissera also participated in this meeting.
Pope Francis greets Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena during a private audience at the Vatican. REUTERS
Pope Francis meets Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena (L) and wife Jayanthi Sirisena during a private audience at the Vatican. REUTERS