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Some Catholics in Sri Lanka seek postponement of Pope's visit over possible election violence

FILE - In this Dec. 4, 2014 file photo, Pope Francis listens to a speech during a special audience he held for members of the FOCSIV Italian Catholic volunteers, at the Vatican. Some Roman Catholic priests and laypeople in Sri Lanka are seeking the postponement of Pope Francis' trip to the island nation next month, citing the visit's closeness to the country's presidential election and possible violence linked to the poll. Francis is due to arrive in Sri Lanka for a three-day visit on Jan. 13, five days after the election. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

FILE - In this Dec. 4, 2014 file photo, Pope Francis listens to a speech during a special audience he held for members of the FOCSIV Italian Catholic volunteers, at the Vatican. Some Roman Catholic priests and laypeople in Sri Lanka are seeking the postponement of Pope Francis' trip to the island nation next month, citing the visit's closeness to the country's presidential election and possible violence linked to the poll. Francis is due to arrive in Sri Lanka for a three-day visit on Jan. 13, five days after the election. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)  (The Associated Press)

Some Roman Catholic priests and lay people in Sri Lanka are seeking the postponement of Pope Francis' visit to the island nation in January, citing its closeness to a presidential election and possible violence linked to the polls.

Catholic leader the Rev. Leo Perera wrote to the country's bishops saying that in the past, days after elections have been marked by violence and Francis' presence in a period of turmoil could "sully the image of the papacy."

President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his former ally Maithripala Sirisena are locked in an acrimonious campaign for the Jan. 8 election. Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive just five days later.

Christian Solidarity Movement says it has decided to write to the Vatican not to allow the pope to be "trapped" in politics.