Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena met with a delegation of bishops visiting Colombo for the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) plenary assembly and praised their devotion to service. The president met the bishops at his official residence in Colombo on Nov. 30. He took the opportunity to praise the Catholic Church and highlight the work done in Sri Lanka, a war-ridden land of past decades. "It is very significant that you have selected Sri Lanka to hold this conference," he told FABC delegation. "I appreciate the work accomplished by the Catholic Church for the poor, in fact, a few weeks ago, I declared 2017 as 'poverty eradication year' in Sri Lanka." Over 140 bishops, archbishops, cardinals and priests gathered to discuss Asian family values, the church of the poor and the mission of mercy from Nov. 28 – Dec. 4. It was the 11th plenary assembly of the FABC and was the first to be held in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena meets delegates from the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference on Nov.30 in Colombo. (Photo by Udesh Gunaratne)
President Sirisena presented a memento to FABC representatives and they watched a number of cultural performances together. While in Colombo, FABC delegates also visited Buddhist and Christian shrines and several other places of interest. A number of ministers were present at the meeting with the president including John Amaratunga, the tourism, Christian affairs and lands minister. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that his government welcomes suggestions from the FABC. "The government promotes peace, reconciliation and recovery from decades of civil war," said Wickremesinghe addressing FABC members on Nov. 29. "The government waits for the support of Catholic bishops and other religious leaders to promote family values," he added. The FABC is a voluntary association of episcopal conferences from all over Asia, established with the approval of the Holy See. The conference is to foster solidarity and co-responsibility for the welfare of the church and society, and to promote and defend whatever is for the greater good.