Church denied claims by an opposition lawmaker that the Pope Francis had cancelled his visit to Sri Lanka

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The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka denied claims by an opposition lawmaker that the Pope Francis had cancelled his January 13-15 visit because a presidential election was being held just days earlier.Pope Francis

The statement issued by the church referred to a statement allegedly made by chief Opposition whip John Amaratunga that the pope would not visit Sri Lanka.

“We categorically state that the visit of the Holy Father will go ahead as scheduled,” the church said in a statement. “We ask legislators not to make irresponsible statements and mislead people.”

In the meantime te Catholic Church on Monday asked Sri Lankan authorities immediately to remove presidential election posters bearing the image of Pope Francis, who is scheduled to visit the island next month.

Roman Catholics account for around six percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million populations and their block vote is seen as crucial to secure the presidency in the January 8 vote.

The church statement said authorities had been asked to remove all campaign posters with the image of the pope and other church symbols.

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