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Rome Reports

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Pope's press conference in plane from Bangladesh: Rohingya and nuclear weapons

As he usually does when returning from a trip, Pope Francis answered questions from journalists during the flight. The pope spoke about his meeting with the Rohingya as part of the press conference. He explained that his encounter with this persecuted group was a nonnegotiable part of the trip.

POPE FRANCIS
“After listening to them one-by-one, with the interpreter speaking their language, I began to feel something inside: 'But I cannot leave them without saying a word,' and I asked for the microphone. I started talking... I do not remember what I said. I know that at a certain point I asked for forgiveness. I believe twice, but I do not remember. But your question was 'what did I feel at that moment...' I was crying. I tried to make sure they couldn't see. They were crying, too.”

The pope also explained that he did not pronounce the word "Rohingya" in public in Myanmar because it would have closed the door to dialogue with the authorities. He acknowledged that while speaking in private, he sent a clear message on where he stood on this issue.

During the press conference, the pope also spoke about nuclear weapons.

POPE FRANCIS
"Today we have reached the limit. This can be a matter of discussion, it is my opinion, and it is my firm opinion: I am convinced. We have reached the limit of liceity to have and use nuclear weapons. Why? Because today, with such a sophisticated nuclear arsenal, we risk the destruction of humanity or, at least, a large part of humanity."

In closing, Pope Francis said he still desires to travel to India, which could be next year, and that traveling to China is still another one of his goals.