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Rome Reports

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November: Pope travels to Myanmar and Bangladesh

The pope began the month Catholics dedicate to praying for the deceased in this cemetery, where U.S. soldiers and nurses who died during World War II are buried.

There the pope prayed for victims of all wars, even those taking place today.

"Today the world is at war once more and prepares to go ever deeper into war. No more, Lord, no more. With war, all is lost."

Also in November, the pope banned the sale of tobacco in the Vatican, so as not to cooperate with a practice that clearly harms the health of people. In addition, he said that "no benefit can be legitimate if it is costing people their lives."

While tensions between the United States and North Korea increased, the pope met with experts and Nobel Peace laureates to push for nuclear disarmament.

Pope Francis denounced that "spending on weapons leaves the real priorities of Humanity in the background."

"Weapons of mass destruction, particularly atomic, create nothing more than a false sense of security and cannot constitute the basis of peaceful coexistence between members of the human family."

The most interesting gift he received that month had four wheels. This Lamborghini Hurricane is a unique car, even donned in Vatican colors. Pope Francis autographed it to be auctioned off for charity. The proceeds will benefit three major humanitarian projects.

In November, the pope celebrated the first World Day of the Poor. As part of the events, he installed this "field hospital" for homeless people in St. Peter's Square. Surprisingly, he visited it himself.

He also celebrated a Mass for the homeless in the Vatican Basilica with thousands of people.

After the Mass, he invited them to eat lunch inside the Vatican. He sat with them and shared the meal.

"Let's share lunch and wish each other the best. Now let's pray that the Lord bless us."

At the end of the month, Pope Francis made his fourth trip to the Far East. He visited Myanmar and Bangladesh.

When he landed in Yangon, these little ones were waiting for him. They were a little shy at first, but then they gave him the most tender welcome.

The Burmese government officially welcomed him a day later in the pharaonic capital Naipyido. In this grand room, he met with the president and gave him copy of the illustrated reproduction of the life of Buddha that is kept in the Vatican Library.

"This is one thing very unexpected."

He also met with Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke about the situation in Rakhine, the epicenter of the humanitarian crisis of the Rohingya minority.

"Your Holiness, the gifts of compassion and encouragement you give us will be treasured."

"The future of Myanmar must be peace, a peace based on respect for the dignity and rights of each member of society, respect for each ethnic group and its identity, respect for the rule of law, and respect for a democratic order that enables each individual and every group – none excluded – to offer its legitimate contribution to the common good."

The pope also visited the main Buddhist authorities of Myanmar, this council of monks. It was a delicate meeting, because many extremist monks incite violence against Muslim minorities.

The largest gathering was this Mass with some 150,000 people. It was a considerable amount since there are only 800,000 Catholics in the entire country.