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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis' most important messages from Myanmar and Bangladesh

In the wake of Pope Francis' meticulously planned diplomatic trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, he sent many messages to political and religious leaders to make an impression on these two majority Buddhist countries.

His messages for political leaders revolved around protecting the Rohingya minority. After Cardinal Charles Maung Bo asked the pope not to say the word “Rohingya” in Myanmar, Pope Francis used it once in a very powerful way in Bangladesh.

POPE FRANCIS
“Let's keep doing good for them, helping them. Let's keep mobilizing ourselves so their rights are recognized. Let's keep our hearts open. Let's not look away. The presence of God today is also called 'Rohingya.'”

He put his words into action when he listened to the stories of 16 Rohingya refugees and asked for forgiveness for the indifference they have felt from the world. He also called on the world to assist Bangladesh who has welcomed one million Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar. 

POPE FRANCIS
"In the name of everyone, of those who have persecuted you, hurt you; above all, for the indifference of the world, I ask for your forgiveness. I'm sorry. It is imperative that the international community take decisive measures to address this grave crisis.”

In addition to assisting the Rohingya, his message for the Church involved helping all those who suffer physical and emotional wounds from violence. Myanmar especially understands as they faced oppressive military rule from 1962 to 2011.

POPE FRANCIS
"We think that healing can come from anger and revenge. Yet the way of revenge is not the way of Jesus."

He sent a message pleading for unity and dialogue to all religious leaders, despite differences in beliefs. He delivered that message to Sangha, the Supreme Council of Buddhist monks in the country, and also quoted Buddha when addressing them.

POPE FRANCIS
"'Overcome the angry with non-anger; overcome the wicked with goodness; overcome the greedy by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.' May that wisdom continue to inspire every effort to foster patience and understanding, and to heal the wounds of conflict that through the years have divided people of different cultures, ethnicities and religious convictions."

However, when the pope was on the flight back to Rome from Dhaka, he shared a secret emotional moment during his non-negotiable visit with the Rohingya during 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 made sure they couldn't see it. They were crying, too.”

Pope Francis concluded his 21st visit outside of Italy after visiting Myanmar from Nov. 27-30, and then traveling to neighboring Bangladesh from Nov. 30-Dec 2. His messages were powerful, and he made sure to address all religious and political leaders, and include the people throughout each day of his trip.