ASIA/SRI LANKA - The Bishops: "a new era of peace and reconciliation with newly-elected president Sirisena"

Friday, 9 January 2015

Colombo (Agenzia Fides) - "There are high hopes and good wishes for Sri Lanka to begin a new era of prosperity and peace": with these words, gathered by Agenzia Fides, His Exc. Mgr. Vianney Fernando, Bishop of Kandy welcomes the outcome of the presidential election held yesterday. Outgoing President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, admitted being defeated by his main challenger, former Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena.
Mgr. Fernando reports to Fides the hopes of the Church of Sri Lanka: "With a delegation of Bishops, we had met the President-elect before the vote. He had shown his program of good governance, with the fight against corruption and commitment to development and reconciliation. He said he will work for a better division of powers, reducing even those regarding the President himself, appointing independent commissions for justice, for public services, for financial controls. Surely he will have a lot to do to form a government, having to give account to a heterogeneous coalition, but has the necessary political experience to do it".
"One of the most important issues on the agenda - the Bishop explains to Fides - is the political solution to the problem of the ethnic composition of society and of the post-conflict era. A solution must be based on the principle of decentralization of power, unity and reconciliation. For me there is a good chance that this can happen. Outgoing President Rajapaksa should be ascribed the credit for having put an end to a bloody civil conflict. Now we need a political solution. Peace based on justice is needed. With regards to these points the newly-elected President has promised to form an independent commission to ascertain possible crimes and I think this approach can be helpful".
On the Pope’s next visit "the whole country is waiting with trepidation, not only Catholics", said Mgr. Fernando. "We will have a double gift: his presence and the canonization of Joseph Vaz, the apostle of the Church of Sri Lanka. It was Pope Bergoglio himself who wanted this celebration to take place during his pilgrimage: we are very happy. The presence of Pope Francis has also a positive impact on non-Christians. The Pope understands our sufferings and difficulties. Buddhists await him as a messenger of peace. His presence at the Shrine of Madhu will have great significance of solidarity with the victims of the war, and it will be like a strong message of national reconciliation". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 09/01/2015)