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Rajapaksa urged not to mix pope and politics

Qadijah Irshad
Filed on December 7, 2014
Rajapaksa urged not to mix pope and politics

The church called for the posters that emerged in several parts of Colombo, on church walls and elsewhere to be removed immediately. No one has claimed responsibility for the posters.


Colombo: The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has condemned the government for using Pope Francis’ image alongside with that of President Mahinda Rajapaksa on posters prior to the presidential elections.

The church called for the posters that emerged in several parts of Colombo, on church walls and elsewhere to be removed immediately. No one has claimed responsibility for the posters.

Posters and banners displayed in predominantly Catholic areas imply that the pope has blessed Rajapaksa’s re-election.

“With His Holiness’ blessings - you will be our president,” reads a poster outside a church. Others display images of the president and the first lady meeting the pope at the Vatican in October.

President Rajapaksa has been condemned by the Catholic Church for ‘exploiting’ the much awaited papal visit to Sri Lanka in January to aid his presidential election campaign.

“We urge the government and all other political parties to refrain from using the Pope’s visit for their political campaigns,” said Bishop Raymond Wickramasinghe, chairman of National Commission for Social Communication.

Rev Fr Cyril Gamini Fernando, director of the National Catholic Center for Social Communications, issued a press statement last week calling for the “respective authorities and persons to remove those political posters and cutouts immediately.”

The pope is expected to arrive in Colombo on January 13, five days after an early presidential election declared by President Rajapaksa. Pope Francis is expected to canonize Joseph Vaz, a 17th-century priest and missionary, as the country’s first saint.

qadijah@khaleejtimes.com





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