Pope Francis who arrived in the country on January 13 said that he hoped every word and action of Sri Lankan political and religious leaders will make a lasting contribution to the material and spiritual progress of all the Sri Lankans. Speaking at the Bandaranaike International Airport upon his arrival, the Pope said that promoting human dignity and respect for human rights was also essential as well as improving infrastructures and material needs.
"The great work of rebuilding must embrace improving infrastructures and meeting material needs, but also, and even more importantly, promoting human dignity, respect for human rights, and the full inclusion of each member of society," he said. He said that the diversity was no longer seen as a threat, but as a source of enrichment and therefore people of Sri Lanka must be prepared to accept one another, to respect legitimate diversities, and learn to live as one family.
"Whenever people listen to one another humbly and openly, their shared values and aspirations become all the more apparent," he said. Commenting on the civil war and its aftermath, the Pope said he was convinced that the followers of the various religious traditions have an essential role to play in the process of reconciliation and rebuilding which is taking place in the island.
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