The Pope announced that it is “almost certain” that in 2017 he will visit India and Bangladesh. Christians are preparing to welcome him with enthusiasm. The police will increase controls to prevent terrorist attacks. Some Muslims consider him a “model of peace”; others oppose the visit.
PUBLISHED ONJan 2017
Robi Christopher D’Costa, a catechist in the diocese of Barisal, in Bangladesh, says: “It’s really great news that the Holy Father will be in our country. We will be encouraged by his presence. We will see him in person and he will bless us. The faith of Catholics will grow stronger, thanks to his visit.”
The news of the trip filled even the leaders of the local Church with enthusiasm. Msgr. Gervas Rozario, vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB), reports: “We are happy and we await this great event with enthusiasm. Not only Catholics, but all people are happy to be able to welcome Pope Francis. Our government is proud to welcome him. “
Together with Christians, Hindus are happy with the decision. Young Nirmol Das says: “I’m worried about his safety after recent attacks by Islamic extremists.” In this regard, a Catholic police officer (who wants to remain anonymous) reassures: “We will step up security. The government is really committed to eliminating any kind of violent Islamic activities. Pope Francis will come here with confidence.”
On the other hand, Muslims are divided. Many believe that he “must want to come to Bangladesh to preach a model of peace.” Others, more radical, such as Atiq Ebrahim, oppose the journey. The man wrote on his Facebook profile: “Islam does not support Christian activities, and we know that even Catholics do not like Islam at all. We have seen how they had been silent when Christian soldiers and Jews attacked Afghanistan and other Islamic countries.” Md. Aslamuzzaman, another Muslim, posted warnings against Pope Francis. “He is the terrorists’ guru - he says - the truth is that without his permission, America and Europe would not have gone to war.”