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Exhausted Pope Francis cancels meeting with bishops in Sri Lanka

A weary and delayed Francis skipped a lunchtime meeting with Sri Lanka's bishops to rest before completing the rest of his grueling day

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Pope Francis was forced to cancel a planned meeting with Sri Lankan bishops - because he was 'exhausted' after a long journey exposed to the sun play

Pope Francis was forced to cancel a planned meeting with Sri Lankan bishops - because he was 'exhausted' after a long journey exposed to the sun

(AFP/Getty Images/EPA)

Pope Francis was forced to cancel a planned meeting with Sri Lankan bishops - because he was 'exhausted' after a long journey exposed to the sun.

The 78-year-old pontiff arrived in the capital Colombo on Tuesday on his Asia tour before travelling for an hour into the city from the airport on roads lined with well-wishers.

The pope was taken in an open-top car with no protection from the strong sun and after a long overnight flight from Rome.

A Vatican spokesman had said earlier that the meeting with the bishops had been cancelled due to the pope's late arrival from the airport.

But a source working on security arrangements who asked not to be named told AFP the pontiff looked 'exhausted' after his journey.

Pope Francis has shunned the pomp of his predecessors, and said earlier this year he prefers not to use the bulletproof 'popemobile' favoured by previous pontiffs.

Journalists travelling with him said he 'appeared on good form during the flight.'

But after disembarking, he spent nearly two hours in total greeting dignitaries and well-wishers along the 28-kilometer (18-mile) route into town - under scorching sun.

A weary and delayed Francis skipped a lunchtime meeting with Sri Lanka's bishops to rest before completing the rest of his grueling day.

'The health of the pope is good,' the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said today.

'He was a little tired after the 28 kilometers under the sun, but now he has again his strength.'

Francis is the first pope to visit Sri Lanka since the government crushed a 25-year civil war by ethnic Tamil rebels demanding an independent Tamil nation because of perceived discrimination by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majorit.

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