A great crowd welcomed Pope Francis at Colombo's International Airport. The country's recently elected President, Maithripala Sirisena, was one the first people to greet him.
In a colorful ceremony Pope Francis was cheered with music, dances and military honors. Even some elephants were present.
In his speech, the President of Sri Lanka thanked Pope Francis for his visit. He also referred to the country's civil war that finished in 2009.
President of Sri Lanka
"Your Holiness, my government is promoting peace and friendship among our people.”
The 25 year long conflict was one of the main themes of the Pope's address as well. He encouraged Sri Lankans to look to the future and leave the past behind.
"It is no easy task to overcome the bitter legacy of injustices, hostility and mistrust left by the conflict. It can only be done by overcoming evil with good and by cultivating those virtues which foster reconciliation, solidarity and peace”.
The Pope highlighted that religions can play a key role in the reconciliation process and added that all citizens must "have a voice” in the country's recovery.
"Whenever people listen to one another humbly and openly, their shared values and aspirations become all the more apparent. Diversity is no longer seen as a threat, but as a source of enrichment. The path to justice, reconciliation and social harmony becomes all the more clearly seen”.
As a conclusion, Pope Francis asked the country to respect human rights and to embrace the country's diversity.