“And during your visit please give us the gift of your blessing on the Theological-pastoral Institute which we have dedicated to Pope Benedict XVI and which will help us in the formation of our future ecclesiastical collaborators,” the Sri Lanka bishops’ conference president wrote in his letter to the pope published in the May 18 issue of Messenger, Sri Lanka’s Catholic weekly newspaper.
The cardinal personally launched the institute in Negombo, western Sri Lanka, funded by the Vatican during the term of Pope Benedict XVI who was expected to visit Sri Lanka for its inauguration, said yesterday’s report from ceylontoday.lk
In his letter to Pope Francis earlier this month, Cardinal Ranjith also appealed for the “gift of the canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz” who the cardinal described as “the great and humble servant of The Lord.”
Blessed Vaz, a Catholic priest from Goa has come to be called “The Apostle of Ceylon (Sri Lanka’s former name).” He went to Ceylon in the 1600s after hearing of the oppression of Catholics in the Dutch colony.
“He, through heroic pastoral ministry carried out during the 16th and 17th centuries, when our Church suffered an intense persecution at the hands of an anti-catholic colonial power, resurrected the faith in our country and so became the second founder of our Church,” Cardinal Ranjith wrote in his letter to Pope Francis.
Aside from Buddhists and some 1.2 million Catholics among Sri Lanka’s population today, there are sizeable Hindu and Muslim minorities.
At the time of the pope’s announcement of his January 2015 visit to Sri Lanka, Cardinal Ranjith had not received official confirmation from the Vatican of the pope’s visit to Sri Lanka, ceylontoday.lk quoted Sri Lanka’s communications director saying.