When Pope John Paul II finishes his visit to Australia, he travels to Sri Lanka to beatify an Indian missionary credited with rescuing Catholicism from Calvinist Dutch colonizers 300 years ago.
The pope flies to Sri Lanka on Friday for a two-day visit, the final stop on his 11-day, five-nation Asian pilgrimage. It is the pontiff’s first visit to the country, and by custom he is to kiss the ground upon arrival.
About 2,000 Tamil pilgrims are traveling from the besieged north to join an expected half million Catholics from the south for a seafront Mass.
Even before his arrival in Sri Lanka, John Paul can claim success in bringing a measure of peace to a war-divided country. The government and Tamil rebels were eager to have a cease-fire in place before the pope’s arrival, and his mission spurred them to the negotiating table.