Pope Francis says Sri Lanka needs to face truth to achieve unity

(Photo: REUTERS / Stefano Rellandini)Pope Francis wears a saffron-coloured robe as he sits next to Hindu Ndu-Kurukkal SivaSri T. Mahadeva (R) and Buddhist monk Ittapane Dhammalankara (L) during the Interreligious Encounter at the Bmich in Colombo January 13, 2015. Pope Francis called on Sri Lanka to uncover the truth of what happened during its bloody civil war as part of a healing process between religious communities, as he arrived in Colombo a few days after the island's wartime leaders were voted out.

The process of healing in Sri Lanka following decades of conflict needs to include the pursuit of truth, Pope Francis has said on his arrival on the south Asian island nation.

Francis said this is, "not for the sake of opening old wounds, but rather as a necessary means of promoting justice, healing and unity."

The Pope arrived in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on January 12 on the first leg of a week-long visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

The pontiff said a highlight of his visit will be the canonization o sainthood of Blessed Joseph Vaz.

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His "example of Christian charity and respect for all people, regardless of ethnicity or religion, continues to inspire and teach us today," said Francis speaking on his arrival.

Francis said, "It is a continuing tragedy in our world that so many communities are at war with themselves.

"The inability to reconcile differences and disagreements, whether old or new, has given rise to ethnic and religious tensions, frequently accompanied by outbreaks of violence."

The Pope noted that for many years Sri Lanka for many years knew the horrors of civil war and the nation is now seeking to consolidate peace and to heal the scars of those years.

"It is no easy task to overcome the bitter legacy of injustices, hostility and mistrust left by the conflict.

"It can only be done by overcoming evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21) and by cultivating those virtues which foster reconciliation, solidarity and peace.

"The process of healing also needs to include the pursuit of truth, not for the sake of opening old wounds, but rather as a necessary means of promoting justice, healing and unity."

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