Sri Lanka's Roman Catholic church says Pope Francis' visit in January should not be politicized and that papal images should not be used in the presidential election campaign.

Rev. Cyril Gamini Fernando urged that election billboards with Francis' image be removed. His statement on Sunday did not name the candidate, but some billboards have appeared that show the pope posing with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Rajapaksa is seeking a third term in the Jan. 8 poll, which comes just before Francis arrives in Sri Lanka on a three-day visit on Jan. 13.

After a revolt in the ruling party, the president's main challenger will be his former health minister.