Pope calls for religious freedom as he canonizes Sri Lanka’s first saint

Joe Torres and Quintus Colombage / UCAnews

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (MindaNews/15 January) — Pope Francis called for respect of “religious freedom as a fundamental right” in Sri Lanka as he declared missionary priest Joseph Vaz the country’s first saint on Wednesday, January 14.

Speaking slowly in English, the Pope said each individual “must be free, alone or in association with others, to seek the truth, and to openly express his or her religious convictions, free from intimidation and external compulsion”.

“Saint Joseph shows us the importance of transcending religious divisions in the service of peace,” the pontiff told hundreds of thousands of people who gathered for a seafront Mass in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, on Wednesday.