Tuesday, December 2, 2008
President has audience with Pope
President Mahinda Rajapaksa who visited the Vatican previous morning (Dec 1) has an spectators with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.
At the spectators held at the Holy Father's records in Vatican, the Sri Lankan President apprised the Pope about current developments in Sri Lanka, particularly the clearing of the Madhu area from terrorists and restoring and reopening the Sacred Madhu Shrine for worship.
It is learnt that Pope Benedict spoken his keen interest in the developments in Sri Lanka, the moves by the Government to provide humanitarian assistance, the hope for the reinstatement of democratic freedoms in all of Sri Lanka, The Pope had also spoken his concern at the spread of terrorism in the region, and the need for more concentrated act internationally to get rid of terrorism, wherever it occurs.
Later the Sri Lankan President apprised the Secretary of State of the Vatican Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone about the state of affairs in the North, and the development made in combating and defeating terrorism in Sri Lanka so far, such as the let go of the East that was achieved since his preceding call to the Vatican.
In discussions on the current situation, the President informed the Secretary of State of the successes in military process in the North, particularly the freeing of the Madhu area and the sacred shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, which is an important centre of Catholic adoration and pilgrimage, the restoration of the Madhu Church by Sri Lankan troops after the damage caused by the LTTE that previous controlled the area, and that after many years the Madhu Church is now open for worship.
The President also apprised the Cardinal Bertone of the caring situation in the North and the steps being taken by the Government to help the persons for the time being displaced owing to the continuing military operations to free the North too of terrorism, particularly due to the LTTE holding civilians as human buffers in areas still under its control, where the troops had been instructed to make sure the security and help the civilians exaggerated by the disagreement.
President Rajapaksa explained the Cardinal that spiritual freedom and freedom of adoration is certain in the Sri Lankan association and the country has a long historic custom of spiritual harmony.
The President also said government is keen on a political settlement to the ethnic conflict after the defeat of terrorism and repeated his request to the LTTE to lay down their arms, surrender and enter the democratic process.
The Secretary of condition of Vatican spoken good wishes for reinstatement of calm and liberty for all people in Sri Lanka. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and Sri Lanka's Ambassador in Germany T. B. Maduwegedara who is accredited to Vatican were too there at the chat with the Cardinal.
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