Sri Lanka president invites Pope Francis I to visit

Aug 02, 2013 (LBO) – President Mahinda Rajapaksa had invited Pope Francis I, the head of the Roman Catholic Church to visit Sri Lanka, his media office said. “On behalf of the Government and the people of Sri Lanka, I consider it a great privilege and an honour to extend to Your Holiness an invitation to undertake a visit to this beautiful country, which only recently emerged from three decades of conflict,” President Rajapaksa was quoted as writing in his invitation.

“A visit by Your Holiness to Sri Lanka would be a momentous occasion to all Sri Lankans, and I earnestly hope I will soon have the honour of welcoming Your Holiness to our shores.”

Sri Lanka and the Holy See, as the theocratic administration of Vatican City is formally known, had established formal diplomatic relations in 1976.

Pope Paul VI visited Sri Lanka in 1970, and Pope John Paul II visited the island in 1995.

“The Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has played a pivotal role over the years in improving the lives of the citizenry, particularly in the fields of education, healthcare and social service, President Rajapaksa had said.

“The Church’s services for a