13 December 2017
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  • » 12/04/2017, 13.42

    VATICAN-BANGLADESH-MYANMAR

    Not just Rohingya: Pope Francis’ message to Myanmar and Bangladesh

    Bernardo Cervellera

    News coverage overly focused on "saying / not saying" the word Rohingya. The Pope avoids trial by media, opting to outline constructive paths of hope. Full citizenship for dozens of ethnic groups and a development based on human dignity. The unity between the young and the different ethnic groups, admired by Buddhists and Muslims.

    Rome (AsiaNews) - At the end of his trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, Pope Francis said the fateful word: Rohingya. In saying it, he did not "slam the door shut " or tear his clothes, rather he asked forgiveness for the world’s indifference and caressed the faces of men, women and children whose family members were killed, or who had to flee from the military onslaught. The Pope met 16 in Dhaka, and all of them prayed and cried with him. "God - said Francis - is also Rohingya".

    The global media were waiting for this word in order to condemn the violence of the Burmese army, denounce the inanity of the leader Aung San Suu Kyi, to plunge Myanmar under the weight of sanctions. In some respects, it gave the impression that this journey's significance hinged on that one word. But in this way, the media failed to show all the richness of the pontiff’s message and the impulse that he has given to this region of the world which is both so rich and so poor.

    It is true that in Myanmar Francis did not use the word "Rohingya", rather he spoke of all minorities (Kachin, Chin, Karen, Naga, Kaya, ...) who suffer the same things as Rohingya without ever making headlines . And the Roman Pontiff said that citizenship is necessary for all, the distribution of wealth, the collaboration to build peace in Burmese society. The decades of military dictatorship have created almost incurable wounds, violence and wars, but the pope has asked everyone, especially the Christians, to forgive and work for reconciliation to ward off the spectre of a war in which everyone loses.

    This is why Pope did not court media praise or condemnation, instead he outlined constructive paths of hope. This is why in both countries, in Myanmar and Bangladesh, he spoke to young people to support their enthusiasm and propose a path of hope for the future. Young people who emigrate, who accept slave-like working conditions, or who take up arms, who risk living like the desperate. Francis asked young Christians to be catalysts of hope.

    This means not burying oneself within the folds of one's own ethnic or religious group, nurturing suspicion towards others, remaining inert and sceptical, but opening oneself to encounter, sustained by the common dignity of every person.

    The collaboration between religions is the other pillar of this journey: with the Islamic majority in Bangladesh and with the Buddhist one in Myanmar it is important to work so that the economic development under way in these two countries is founded on the mystery of human dignity, and not only on profit, the exploitation of labor and child slaves. Francis has shown that by valuing the religious dimension, one can have the common good more easily at heart.

    He wanted to meet with the leaders of the religions both in Myanmar and in Bangladesh and with them he condemned the violence and terrorism that manipulate the name of God, but above all he pushed them to work together for a society of which man is at the center, whatever his ethnicity, because he is made in the image of God.

    A final word on the Churches of these two countries, small minorities often in the cyclone of persecution. The Pope praised the Christians who, despite being a "mustard seed", give sustenance to the population and the poor in Bangladesh and Myanmar. The esteem that Christians enjoy is primarily due to their service: schools, hospitals, agricultural and labor cooperatives. But in this service, people discover with wonder the reasons for the love of Christ. It is not by chance that in both Bangladesh and in Myanmar the Church grows every year, there are abundant vocations and these small communities already send missionaries to other lands.

    It was perhaps one of the first times that all the Christian ethnic groups of Myanmar and the dozens of Bangladeshi ethnic groups gathered together, arousing the admiration of Buddhists and Muslims. A good promise for the future.

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    See also

    04/09/2017 21:08:00 BANGLADESH – MYANMAR – VATICAN
    Cox's Bazar: Rohingya Muslims ask Pope Francis for help (video and photos)

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    16/10/2017 14:46:00 MYANMAR – VATICAN
    Pope Francis’s visit to Myanmar will also be a blessing for Protestant youth

    The pope’s apostolic visit raises hopes and expectations. For Patrick Loo Tone, president of Myanmar Council of Churches, the pope’s visit will open a window on the country’s Christians. Myanmar has 700,000 Catholics in 14 dioceses.



    13/06/2012 MYANMAR - BANGLADESH
    As Dhaka turns away a thousand Burmese Rohingya, Sittwe is patrolled by soldiers
    Bangladesh prevented a thousand refugees on three boats from landing. In previous days, an additional 500 were sent back to Myanmar. Security forces patrol the streets of the capital of Rakhine State, scene of Buddhist-Muslim clashes. Apparent calm could turn violent again.

    28/11/2017 10:30:00 BANGLADESH-VATICAN
    Rohingya and peripheries, the hot topics awaiting Pope Francis in Dhaka

    Dhaka still devoid of signs of welcome for arrival of the pontiff. At the center of the visit: refugees, migrants and rejected people. In Cox's Bazaar camps, the Chittagong diocese thinks of the education of Rohingya children. The displaced risk being moved to Hill Tracts where no rights or development exist. From our envoy on the ground.



    04/05/2017 15:52:00 VATICAN – MYANMAR
    Pope Francis and Aung San Suu Kyi establish full diplomatic relations

    The two sides agree to sending a nuncio and an ambassador. Card Charles Bo of Yangon attended the meeting. Despite its minority status, the Catholic Church is a driving force for development, justice and reconciliation in the country.





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