papal visit

Pope expresses satisfaction with meetings on Rohingya crisis

Pope Francis answered questions from journalists aboard his flight from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to Rome Dec. 2

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM BANGLADESH -- Well aware he was disappointing some people by not using the word "Rohingya" publicly in Myanmar, Pope Francis said his chief concern had been to get a point across, and he did."If I would have used the word, the door would have closed," he told reporters Dec. 2 on his flight from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to Rome.

He spent almost an hour answering reporters' questions after his six-day trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, but insisted that most of the questions be about the trip.

Rohingya crisis shows danger of identity politics

A Rohingya family sat outside their tent Nov. 20 at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. More than 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to neighboring Bangladesh from Myanmar. Myanmar considers the group undocumented Muslims from Rakhine state and has not granted them standing as a recognized ethnic group in the country.

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- The themes chosen by the local bishops for Pope Francis' visits to Myanmar and Bangladesh -- "Love and peace" and "Harmony and peace" -- sounded naive or just too "nicey-nice" to some people.

But when love, peace and harmony are missing, the situation is pretty much hell on earth. The Rohingya refugees from Myanmar now living in teeming camps in Bangladesh could testify to that.

Pope Francis, on the other hand, wanted to testify to the Gospel. And that meant emphasizing love, peace and harmony.

Defend God's image by defending the Rohingya, pope urges

Pope Francis touched the head of a young woman as he met Rohingya refugees from Myanmar during an interreligious and ecumenical meeting for peace in the garden of the archbishop's residence in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dec. 1.

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Each human being is created in the image and likeness of God, yet so often people desecrate that image with violence, as seen in the treatment of Myanmar's Rohingya minority, Pope Francis said.

"Today, the presence of God is also called 'Rohingya,'" the pope said Dec. 1 after meeting, clasping hands with and listening intently to 16 Rohingya who have found shelter in Bangladesh.

"They, too, are images of the living God," Pope Francis told a gathering of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu leaders gathered in Dhaka for an interreligious meeting for peace.

Pope, Myanmar's leaders discuss rights of ethnic minorities

Pope Francis met Aung San Suu Kyi, state counselor and foreign minister of Myanmar, at the presidential palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Nov. 28. At the meeting, the two talked about the rights of minorities, although neither mentioned the ethnic Muslim Rohingya group by name.

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar — The plight of the ethnic Muslim minority in Myanmar's Rakhine state was front and center in speeches by Pope Francis and Aung San Suu Kyi, but neither publicly used the word Rohingya.

The next day, at a meeting with Buddhist leaders, the pope did use the word "Rohingya," whom the Myanmar government doesn't recognize as a separate ethnic group, but he insisted the meeting was an occasion "to affirm a commitment to peace, respect for human dignity and justice for every man and woman."

Ecumenical papal trip also will show pain of division

VATICAN CITY — The extension by one day of Pope Francis' trip to Sweden to accommodate a papal Mass for the nations' Catholics does not detract from the ecumenical power of the trip, but highlights the need for Christian unity, said the general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation.

Be known for your love, pope tells people of Armenia

Pope Francis and Catholicos Karekin II, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, arriveed in procession for a Mass in Vartanants Square in Gyumri, Armenia, on June 25.

GYUMRI, Armenia -- Acts of love and kindness must be a Christian's "calling card," the characteristic that identifies them more than anything, Pope Francis told Catholics in northern Armenia.

Traveling June 25 to Gyumri, a city with a significant Catholic population and one still bearing the scars of an earthquake almost three decades ago, Pope Francis once again praised the steadfast faith of the Armenian people.

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