Pope Francis Prays Alongside Rohingya Muslim Refugees During Trip To Bangladesh

Pope Francis Prays Alongside Rohingya Muslim Refugees During Trip To Bangladesh

Pope Francis Prays Alongside Rohingya Muslim Refugees During Trip To Bangladesh

"Let's not close our hearts, let's not look to the other side", the pope said during an interfaith prayer for peace in Dhaka, according to Crux, a Catholic news website. It was the first time the pope had used the term Rohingya on his Asia trip, and he did so in a very strong theological way.

Francis met the group of Rohingyas at the archbishop's palace in the Bangladeshi capital.

The 16, three families from the Cox Bazar refugee camp, were 12 men and boys, two women and two girls. "We give you space in our hearts", the Pope said. The violence escalated late August, when the military responded to an attack by Rohingya militants with a heavy crackdown. "In the name of everyone, of those who persecute you, those who hurt you, and especially of the world's indifference, I ask for your forgiveness". The Rohingya are not recognized as an official minority in Myanmar, effectively meaning they are denied citizenship. The conflict has prompted more than 625,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh.

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He refrained from using the term on his visit to Myanmar earlier this week.

Activists argued that because Francis did not use the term while he was in Myanmar, he was complicit in the country's strategy to delegitimize the Rohingya plight by questioning their name and identity.

"None of us can fail to be aware of the gravity of the situation, the enormous toll of human suffering involved, and the precarious living conditions of so many of our brothers and sisters, a majority of whom are women and children, crowded in the refugee camps", he said.

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During his visit to Myanmar, Francis met the country's two most important leaders: Suu Kyi and Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of Myanmar's armed forces.

The pope made the comments in a speech shortly after arriving from Myanmar, where he walked a diplomatic tightrope, staying away from allegations that the army is waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims, despite pressure to publicly confront the incendiary issue. He instead opted for a generic call for unity, sparking some criticism from global human rights groups.

"I will share my pain with him", the woman said.

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