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Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, hot-headed leader of the group Bodu Bala Sena, or 'Buddhist Power Force' (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Pope Francis faces a big challenge when he heads to Sri Lanka this month – dealing with the bitter hostility of the island’s extremist Buddhist monks

Pope Francis leaves St Peter's Basilica after celebrating Mass on New Year's Day (CNS)

Pontiff marks the World Day of Peace at a Mass in St Peter’s Basilica

Pope Francis celebrates the traditional Vespers and Te Deum on the last day of the year (AP)

Remember that you will be judged, says the Pope, especially on how you used your freedom and cared for the poor

Pope Francis waves as he arrives for a general audience in June (AP)

More than a million people attended Francis’s 43 general audiences this year

Pope Francis arrives at the Paul VI hall for a meeting with large families (AP)

Pontiff urges policy-makers to support larger families

Pope Francis smiles during the Angelus address (AP)

Pope says St Stephen ‘offered as a gift his life in service for the poorest’

Pope Francis appears on the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica to deliver his Urbi et Orbi message (AP)

‘Truly there are so many tears this Christmas,’ says Pontiff, ‘together with the tears of the Infant Jesus’

Pope Francis appears for his Urbi et Orbi blessing on Christmas Day (AP/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pontiff prays for children ‘abused and exploited under our eyes’ in Urbi et Orbi message

Pope Francis kisses the statue of the Christ Child at Midnight Mass in St Peter's Basilica (AP)

The Nativity shows ‘that God is Father and that his patient fidelity is stronger than darkness and corruption’

An elderly Sri Lankan prays at a roadside shrine of St Anthony in Colombo (AP)

Official insist Francis’s trip next month is on schedule