During a meeting with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa this morning in Colombo, the Ambassador (Apostolic Nuncio) of the Holy See Archbishop Brian Ngozi Udaigwe praised and expressed appreciation for the “wonderful cooperation between the State and the Catholic Church” in Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa fondly recalled his two visits to the Vatican in 2012 and 2014. It was during his last visit that he invited His Holiness Pope Francis to make a state visit to Sri Lanka, which Pope Francis accepted. The state visit took place the following year. The Archbishop said Pope Francis recalled the warm reception he received in Sri Lanka during his visit and hopes he will be able to visit again soon.
Archbishop Udaigwe said he looks forward to continue promoting good relations between Sri Lanka and the Holy See in areas of education, health and assistance to the poor.
Prime Minister acknowledged the vast amount of work done by the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, especially in the area of education.
The two delegations also discussed the Easter Sunday attacks. Prime Minister Rajapaksa said the unfortunate loss of life could have been prevented had the government at the time paid attention to the warnings they received and took them seriously. Prime Minister Rajapaksa, then the Leader of the Opposition, was the first politician to visit the St. Anthony’s Shrine after the bombing.
“Sri Lanka is known as a peaceful country,” Archbishop Udaigwe said. “It is a country that is a model for so many. I’m really happy to be here.”
Archbishop Udaigwe is the newly appointed Ambassador of the Holy See to the Embassy in Colombo, which has been functioning since 1976. Despite being the world’s smallest sovereign state, the Vatican maintains 108 resident diplomatic missions and is concurrently accredited to another 74 countries.