Visit of Pope Francis in Bangladesh: happy Christians and Hindus; Muslims divided
by Sumon Corraya

On his return from Azerbaijan, the Pope announced that it is "almost certain" that in 2017 he will visit India and Bangladesh. Christians are preparing to welcome him with enthusiasm. The police will increase controls to prevent terrorist attacks. Some Muslims consider him a "model of peace"; others oppose the visit.


Dhaka (AsiaNews) - All Christians in Bangladesh are eager that Pope Francis visit their country. Catholics have been in fibrillation since the Pope spoke of the probable pastoral visit to India and Bangladesh, discussing it with reporters on the flight from Azerbaijan. On the contrary, the feelings of Muslims are divided between those who consider him a model of peace and who do not view this visit with good grace.

Robi Christopher D'Costa, a catechist in the diocese of Barisal, says: "It's really great news that the Holy Father will be in our country. We will be encouraged by his presence. We will see him in person and he will bless us. The faith of Catholics will grow stronger thanks to his visit. " The man, who serves the Catholic Church for 32 years, says: "The pope's presence will be the witness of Christ in the Muslim-majority country."

The news of the trip filled even the leaders of the local Church with enthusiasm. Msgr. Gervas Rozario, vice president of the Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB), reports: "We are happy and we await this great event with enthusiasm. Not only Catholics, but all people are happy to be able to welcome Pope Francis. Our government is proud to welcome him. "  

Msgr. Rozario, Bishop of Rajshahi, believes that the coming of Francis "will remember in a sense, the visit of St. John Paul II in 1986. It will be a way to reinvigorate the life of the small Christian community, encourage us during this period marked by terrorism and abuse of human rights of minorities. "

"The trip - continues the bishop - will represent many things: it will boost our efforts in favor of dialogue and reconciliation, it will focus on climate change, migrants and human trafficking".

Together with Christians, Hindus are happy with the decision. Young Nirmol Das says: "Pope Francis I like, but I'm worried about his safety after recent attacks by Islamic extremists."

In this regard, a Catholic police officer (who wants to remain anonymous), reassures: "We will step up security. The government is really committed to eliminating any kind of violent Islamic activities. Pope Francis will come here with confidence".

On the other hand, Muslims are divided. Many believe that he "must want to come to Bangladesh to preach a model of peace. The Pope shows his love for Syrian refugees, he is a leader for all humanity. " Others, more radical, such as Atiq Ebrahim positions, oppose the journey. The man wrote on his Facebook profile: "Islam does not support Christian activities, and we know that even Catholics do not like Islam at all. We have seen how they have been silent, when Christian soldiers and Jews attacked Afghanistan and other Islamic countries." Md. Aslamuzzaman, another Muslim ,posted warnings against Pope Francis. "He is the terrorists guru - he says - the truth is that without his permission, America and Europe would not have gone to war."