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Pope asks Rohingya for forgiveness for world’s indifference

Pope Francis met with three Rohingya families earlier today, during his trip to Bangladesh.

by Ryan McDougall

Among the three families were 12 men, two women and two girls. During their conversation, aided by three translators, the Pope patted the family members on the head and held their hands.

“We are close to you,” he said, addressing them following the meeting, adding: “Your situation is very tough. In the name of all those who’ve hurt you, for the world’s indifference, I ask for forgiveness.”

Having not used the word ‘Rohingya’ in Myanmar in the eralier part of his trip, Pope Francis said today, when closing an interreligious prayer: “Let’s not close our hearts, let’s not look to the other side, the presence of God today is also called Rohingya.”

Pope Francis previously received some criticism for abstaining from saying ‘Rohingya’, possibly due to the government’s refusal to officially recognize the word.

Nur Khan of the Law and Arbitration Center, said Pope Francis’ decision not to use the word left him ‘frustrated’.

“He has mentioned refugees from Rakhine State of Myanmar who fled to Bangladesh, which does not directly mean Rohingya,” he said.

“The world listens to Pope Francis, so our expectation from him is always high,” he added, stating that ‘the world will not turn upside down’ should Pope Francis use the word Rohingya.

Priests from Bangladesh however, have rejected these comments. Fr Tapan Camillus De Rozario, chairman of the World Religion and Culture department at the University of Dhaka, defended Pope Francis’ choice to have previously not used the word, and said it ‘doesn’t matter’ whether or not the Pope uses the word directly or not.

He said that people in Bangladesh have their problems, and that the Pope ‘cannot solve’ them all.

The priest added that people should not ‘force upon the Pope our own words or demands.’

“Even if the Pope didn’t use the word, [Bangladeshi Church leaders] have been constantly using the term,” He said.

“Pope Francis will always stand beside oppressed people, so do the Catholic Church.”

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