Deputy Minister of External Affairs, Hon. Neomal Perera, led the Sri Lanka delegation, which participated at the Mass inaugurating the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome, His Holiness Pope Francis, in the Vatican City on 19th March 2013. Hon. Sarath Kumara Gunaratne, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Hon. John Amaratunga, Member of Parliament & Chief Opposition Whip of Parliament also joined him in this delegation.
His Holiness the Pope Francis, who was elected to succeed Benedict XVI's at last week's conclave, received huge wave of cheers and applause from the large crowd gathered at St. Peter’s Square. Reportedly, there were delegations from 132 governments present, when he made it clear that he intends to protect the world's poor and weak and called on the world's powerful to protect the environment. Immediately after the inaugural mass, which commenced at 9.30 am, Pope Francis received the heads of delegations present and devoted few minutes with them to receive their greetings and offer his blessings.
While carrying a special message from H. E Mahinda Rajapaksa, the President of Sri Lanka on election of new Pope as 266th successor of St. Peter, leading the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, Hon. Neomal Perera and his delegation had the opportunity to greet the new pontiff in person and receive his blessings at this memorable moment.
During his stay in Rome, the Deputy Minister Neomal Perera also used the opportunity to meet the Sri Lanka community leaders in Italy along with other members of Sri Lanka delegation and held a fruitful discussion with them at the Embassy to identify their issues and offered solutions to most of them while agreeing to look in to others which may require further consultations back at home. Hon. Neomal Perera and his delegation will conclude their visit to the Vatican and Rome after visiting the Sri Lankan schools in Naples, which offer dedicated education to children born to Sri Lankan families in Naples.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
19th March 2013