Cardinal slams proposed Vatican visit of PM and FM

Govt. says no such visit planned

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COLOMBO – The Catholic Church of Sri Lanka on Wednesday (8) condemned a proposed visit by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Minister of Foreign Affairs Prof. G. L. Pieris to the Vatican, with Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, alleging the proposed visit was an attempt to mislead the Pope and the international community over the Easter Sunday investigations.

However, the Foreign Ministry dismissed the allegations as unfounded, saying the prime minister had not sought an audience with the Pope.  Issuing a statement on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry said, “At no stage has the Prime Minister requested nor has he received an invitation to visit the Vatican for an audience with His Holiness, the Pope.”

The statement confirmed that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister will set off on a visit to Bologna, Italy on Thursday (9) to participate in an international event attended by the Prime Minister of Italy and other dignitaries from Italy and other European countries.

It also noted that Foreign Minister Pieris at his briefing conducted on Monday (6) had clearly described the purpose of the visit. “The Prime Minister is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the opening session of the international symposium which will be held in one of Europe’s oldest seats of learning, the University of Bologna,” it said.

The statement also claimed both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister will be leaving Italy, at the conclusion of the events in Bologna.

Addressing the media Wednesday, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, expressed his opposition to any moves by the government to brief the Vatican about the investigations on Easter Sunday attacks, saying the Sri Lankan Catholic Church had already briefed the Holy See about the situation.

He said the Vatican was expected to refer the issue to UNHRC in Geneva shortly.

Warning “If the government goes international we will do it as well as we have no other option,” he alleged a conspiracy was being carried forward in a tactful manner to save those who are behind the attack and an effort is being made to “convert the situation favorably towards the government”.

-ENCL

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