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Catholic Pontiff visits Sri Lanka, Philippines

January 13, 2015 - SRI LANKA

Pope Francis spends two days in Sri Lanka, where Catholics are expecting the canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz.

The Pontiff leaves for the Philippines on the second day. Vaz, an Indian priest, travelled to Sri Lanka as a missionary during the Dutch occupation. Portugal, Holland and Britain established colonies in Sri Lanka in succession from 1505 to 1948. A Catholic organization in Colombo reports that Buddhist leaders are planning to rally public opposition to the visit. They assert that the Pope must apologize to Buddhists for offenses committed against their faith by the Europeans who colonized the island nation. In the Philippines, the Pope will seek to boost the morale of survivors of the country's recent earthquakes and Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in November 2013. At Category 5, Yolanda was the strongest tropical cyclone to ever make landfall. The last papal visit to the Philippines was by the late Pope John II in 1995. The now-sainted pontiff presided at World Youth Day in Manila in 1995.

Pope Francis to visit PH Jan. 15 next year (Philippines Inquirer 26 Jun 2014)

Date written/update: 2014-07-24