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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis in Bangladesh: “The presence of God today is also called 'Rohingya'”

Pope Francis opted for a rickshaw instead of the popemobile to make his way to the venue where this interreligious and ecumenical encounter for peace took place. 

Cardinal Patrick D'Rozario, Archbishop of Dhaka, was responsible for giving the opening address, in which he explained the Rohingya minority's reception is a challenge for Bangladesh.

Archbishop of Dhaka
“Opening our hearts in mercy and compassion to those who need it most, particularly now the Rohingya refugees.”

A specific group of this persecuted Muslim ethnicity attended the encounter. They were 16 refugees in Bangladesh from Myanmar. 

Later, representatives from different religions and the civil society participated. 

After the performance, Pope Francis spoke. He used his address to criticize the use of religion to justify violence. 

“That this commitment, here in Bangladesh – where the right to religious freedom is a fundamental principle – may be a respectful but firm call to attention for those who foment division, hate and violence in the name of religion.”

The pope explained the world needs open hearts that can overcome indifference together to obtain an authentic culture of encounter. 

“The world greatly needs this heart that beats strongly, to combat the virus of political corruption, destructive religious ideologies, the temptation to be blind to the needs of the poor, of the refugees, of the persecuted minorities and of the most vulnerable!”

The most anticipated moment of the encounter was undoubtedly this one – Pope Francis' greeting of 16 refugees from the Rohingya minority that he has so strongly defended. With the help of a translator, the pope listened closely and visibly emotionally to the telling of their tragedies.

Very moved, Pope Francis asked for their forgiveness for the world's indifference to their suffering, he requested that their rights be recognized, and he assured that “the presence of God today is also called 'Rohingya.'”