Pope Francis addresses religious leaders in Sri Lanka
This afternoon Pope Francis addressed an interreligious and ecumenical gathering in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo.
The event brought together, among others, the four largest religious communities in Sri Lanka: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.
To the assembled leaders, the Pope noted the urgency for interreligious and ecumenical cooperation and dialogue, particularly in Sri Lanka, in the wake of a violent 26-year civil war that lasted from 1983 until 2009.
“What is needed now is healing and unity, not further conflict and division,” the Pope said.
“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. It is my hope that interreligious and ecumenical cooperation will demonstrate that men and women do not have to forsake their identity, whether ethnic or religious, in order to live in harmony with their brothers and sisters.”
Yet he told the assembled leaders that such dialogue is only effective if it is “grounded in a full and forthright presentation of our respective convictions.”
Pope Francis also stressed the need for a commitment from the leaders of the various religious communities "to put reconciliation among all Sri Lankans at the heart of every effort to renew society”.
“For the sake of peace, religious beliefs must never be allowed to be abused in the cause of violence and war. We must be clear and unequivocal in challenging our communities to live fully the tenets of peace and coexistence found in each religion, and to denounce acts of violence when they are committed."
Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.