Card. Gracias of Mumbai will accompany Pope Francis to Myanmar and Bangladesh
by Nirmala Carvalho

"I want to show him the richness of the Church of the poor." For the cardinal, the Pope's meeting with Rohinghya in Dhaka is "touching and healing those who are on the peripheries", "to be witnesses of the Gospel". The mission in Asia: dialogue and commitment to the poor.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Card. Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai, will accompany Pope Francis on his trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, which begins tomorrow. The cardinal is President of the Federation of Asian Episcopal Conferences (FABC) and is also a member of the Group of Cardinals called the Pontifical Council for Reform of the Curia (the so-called C9).

Speaking to AsiaNews, he explains the meaning of the impending Pope's journey. "Myanmar has a great significance for Pope Francis because there is a small Church: Catholics are about 700,000, 1.28% of the whole nation. And Catholics live as a minority in a Buddhist nation. Nevertheless, the faithful seek new creative ways to better serve the people and society of Myanmar. Yes, the Church is a minority, but Catholics make their presence heard with their service to the poor and unfortunate, defending justice and peace in society. "

"Even in Bangladesh - he adds - Catholics are a minority and yet serve society and the nation through the apostolate in education, health care and development. I learned of the news that the pope will meet the Rohingya in Dhaka. This touching the sorrows of Christ, this touching and healing those who are on the periphery is really the presence of Jesus, being a witness of the Gospel. "

"In Asia – he concludes - the mission of the Church is to be in constant dialogue: dialogue with cultures, with other religions, with the poor. And it's one mission. The Church in Asia is very active with concrete measures serving the poor and marginalized. Evangelization takes place through concrete gestures of charity toward the poor. "

Card. Gracias, who was a close friend of Mother Teresa, was also a friend of the poor and often "touched Jesus' wounds" in the poor as a priest and even a cardinal.

Yesterday the cardinal celebrated his 10 years as cardinal. "My greatest joy - he said - is to serve the Church in Asia. Accompanying Pope Francis to Myanmar and Bangladesh will give me the opportunity to show him the richness of a Church of the poor. "