Pope Francis has expressed concern over growing ethnic tensions in Sri Lanka and encouraged bishops from the country to promote reconciliation and human rights to address the issue.
The Pope said much work needs to be done to achieve peace and harmony among people divided by ethnicity.
The Pope conveyed the message yesterday to a delegation of bishops led by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith as part of their ad Limina Apostolorum visit to Vatican to brief the pontiff about the state of the diosces, local Catholic Church said.
Much work needs to be done to "promote reconciliation, to respect the human rights of all the people and to overcome the ethnic tensions that remain," the ColomboPage quoted him as saying.
The "rise of religious extremists who, in promoting a false sense of national unity based on a single religious identity, have created tensions through various acts of intimidation and violence," he noted.
Father Benedict Joseph, the local Catholic Church spokesman, said that the Pope took note of the reconciliation efforts being undertaken after more than 25 years of the civil war, which experts and rights groups claim killed 40,000 Tamil civilians.
The pope expressed concern over the rise of inter- religious tensions in the region, he said.
Sri Lanka has seen isolated acts of inter religious violence with Muslims coming under harassment by extremist Buddhist nationalist groups.
Last week, the activists of Buddhist nationalist groups
like the Bodu Bala Sena stormed the offices of a senior Muslim minister.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa last month ordered setting up
of a special police unit to maintain religious harmony in the country.