12/17/2014, 00.00
SRI LANKA - VATICAN
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As Tamil Catholics wait for Pope Francis' visit to the island, they wish the pope a Happy Birthday

by Melani Manel Perera
A community in the country's north sends AsiaNews greetings for the pontiff. In their part of the island nation, "there is still no peace, no freedom;" yet, they hope that "the pope comes to visit us to pray together."

Mullativu (AsiaNews) - On Pope Francis's birthday, Tamil Catholics in a northern Sri Lankan community expressed their best wishes to the Holy Father for a "long and healthy life" because the people of Sri Lanka "needs the pope's prayers for a lasting peace."

The pontiff, who is 78 today, will travel to the island nation in less than a month on an apostolic visit (13-15 January 2015). However, some in Sri Lanka, including some Christian groups, are very concerned about the proximity between the date of the presidential election (8 January 2015) and the papal visit worries some sections of Sri Lankan society,.

According Tamils ​​interviewed by AsiaNews, the vote "will be very crucial and we would not like to see any tensions or acts of violence" during the pontiff's visit.

"In the north there is still no peace nor freedom," added some Tamil families in Mullivikkal. "For this reason, we would like our pope to come to these lands to pray with us and meet the victims of the civil war."

Still, "It is with great joy that we pray to our Holy Father," his well-wishers said. "We wish him to be our pope for a very long. We need him. We need him to come to our land in a peaceful environment."

As it stands now, the trip's schedule includes a series of meetings and events in central Sri Lanka, including the canonisation of Blessed Joseph Vaz, as well as a visit to Our Lady of Madhu Shrine, in the Diocese of Mannar (north), where he will celebrate Mass and meet with some civil war survivors.

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