Pope makes an appeal for flood victims in Bangladesh, Nepal, India and for the Rohingya

During the Angelus, Pope Francis paused for a moment of silence on behalf of Myanmar’s often rejected Bengali minority. As he did with the apostles, Jesus "expects from his people a different and superior answer than those of public opinion." He also “wants to continue to build his Church” with “small stones”. Indeed, “no small stone is useless; on the contrary, in the hands of Jesus a small stone becomes precious”.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis today issued an appeal on behalf of flood victims in Bangladesh, Nepal and India. He also spoke about and prayed for the Rohingya, a Muslim minority of Bengali origin that migrated to Myanmar.

At the end of the Angelus prayer together with the pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square, the pontiff spoke about the "big floods [that] hit Bangladesh, Nepal and India. I express my closeness to the people and I pray for the victims and all those who suffer because of this calamity."

For weeks, rains have been so abundant in the countries of South Asia that many villages and cities have been flooded. It is estimated that at least 16 million people have been affected. In each country, the local Caritas has been mobilised to help people cope with the emergency.

“Sadly,” the pope said in his address, "There have been reports about the persecution of our brothers and sisters, the Rohingya religious minority. I would like to express all my closeness to them. Let all of us ask the Lord to save them and encourage men and women of goodwill to help them, and give them full rights. Let us also pray for our Rohingya brothers and sisters" and then he paused for a moment of silence.

Two days ago, the report by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the situation of this migrant population was made public, but both Myanmar and Bangladesh have rejected it. Recently, Burmese nationalists, often helped by the military, have clashed and killed minority Rohingya.

Earlier, Francis spoke about today’s gospel (Mt 16:13-20), in which Jesus asked his disciples about what people thought of him, which he followed by asking "But who do you say I am?" (16:15). "With that ‘but’ Jesus definitively separated the Apostles from the mass, as if he were saying: But you, who are with me every day and know me from close up, what have you learnt more? The Master expects from his people a different and superior answer than those of public opinion."

In his reply to Jesus' question, Peter said “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God (16:16). On his lips, Simon Peter found words bigger than himself, words that did not come from his natural abilities.”

“Perhaps he did not finish elementary school, and [yet] he was able to say these words, greater than himself! But they were inspired by the Heavenly Father (16:17), who revealed to the first of the Twelve (Apostles) the true identity of Jesus. He is the Messiah, the Son sent by God to save humanity. And from this answer, Jesus understood that, thanks to the faith given by the Father, there was a solid foundation upon which he could build his community and Church. Hence, he told Simon: ‘And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church’ (16:18).”

"Even with us today, Jesus wants to continue to build his Church, this house, on solid foundations but one that is not lacking in cracks, and in need of constant repair. All time. The Church always needs to be reformed, repaired. We certainly do not feel like rocks, only like small stones. However, no small stone is useless; on the contrary, in the hands of Jesus a small stone becomes precious, because he picks it up, looks at it with tenderness, works it with his Spirit and puts it in the right place, where He had always thought of putting it, and where it can be most useful to the whole building.”

“Each of us is a small stone, but in the hands of Jesus we participate in building the Church. All of us, even if we are small, we become ‘living stones’ because when Jesus picks up his stone, he makes it his own, makes it alive, full of life, full of life from the Holy Spirit, full of life from his love. Thus, we have a place and a mission in the Church: she is a community of life, made up of many different stones, which form a single building in the sign of brotherhood and communion."

"What is more, today’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus also sought for his Church a visible centre of communion in Peter – He too is not a big stone; he is a small stone, but taken by Jesus he becomes a centre of communion – in Peter and those who succeeded him in the same primatial responsibility, who from the earliest days have been identified in the Bishops of Rome, the city where Peter and Paul bore witness in blood."

"Let us entrust ourselves to Mary, Queen of the Apostles, Mother of the Church,” the pope said in concluding. “She was at the cenacle, near Peter, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and urged them to go out, to announce to everyone that Jesus was the Lord. Today may our Mother support us and accompany us with her intercession, in order to fully realise that unity and communion for which Christ and the Apostles prayed and gave their life."

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