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MYANMAR: Pope’s visit to bring peace

While the tragic plight of the Rohingyas has grabbed the world’s attention, Myanmar’s first Cardinal has said the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to his country is aimed broadly to help bring peace and reconciliation to all levels in one of Asia’s most conflict-ridden nations.

In an interview with ucanews.com, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon revealed that the Pope will consider the totality of Myanmar’s challenges. These include the tragic exodus of over 500,000 Rohingyas from Rakhine State, the 120,000 people, many of them Christians, trapped in camps for displaced persons in Kachin and Shan states as well as other mainly Christian groups in camps across the Thai border.

Cardinal Bo is sure that the Pope will address the Rakhine crisis and the ongoing civil war in Kachin in ways acceptable to Myanmar’s authorities, the military and the Buddhist majority. “The Pope’s motto is love and peace: love among the ethnic groups, among the religious people, and the majority Buddhist and other religions. And peace means to end the decades-long civil wars which are still raging in the country’s northern area,” Cardinal Bo said.

“Pope Francis is focusing on minorities, those at the margins, the Catholics in Bangladesh and Myanmar,” Cardinal Bo said. In Bangladesh, the country’s 300,000 Catholics are dwarfed by the more than 150 million Muslim majority. In Myanmar, about 700,000 Catholics account for only 6.2 percent of Myanmar’s official 51 million population.

The Pope will visit Myanmar November 27-30, and neighboring Bangladesh from November 30 to December 2.  


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