National Post | News

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic church said that Pope Francis’ visit in January should not be politicized and that images of him should be removed from presidential election billboards.

LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP / Getty Images LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP / Getty Images

The Rev. Cyril Gamini Fernando made the comment in a statement Sunday, noting that election billboards with Francis’ image have appeared. He did not name the candidate, but some billboards that show the pope posing with President Mahinda Rajapaksa have been put up in several parts of the country.

Rajapaksa is seeking a third term in the Jan. 8 election, which comes five days before Francis arrives in Sri Lanka for a three-day visit. The billboards are exhibited in areas where Catholics live in large numbers.

After a revolt in the ruling party, the president’s main challenger will be his former health minister, and support from the country’s 1.2 million Catholics…

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