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Pope Francis calls for ‘forgiveness’ at landmark Mass in Myanmar

Prime News, International, Yangon, November 29:- Tens of thousands of people flocked to Yangon’s Kyaikkasan Football Stadium on Wednesday to hear the Pope preach a message of forgiveness at his first public Mass in Myanmar.

In his homily, the 80-year-old pontiff referred to the violence and suffering that endures in some parts of the country as it emerges from nearly half-a-century of military dictatorship.

 

He called on the people of Myanmar to “anoint every hurt and every painful memory” and promote “the reconciliation and peace that God wants to reign in every human heart and in every community.

“I know that many in Myanmar bear the wounds of violence, wounds both visible and invisible,” Francis told the crowd in Italian that was translated into Burmese. He said the temptation is to exact revenge but urged a response of “forgiveness and compassion.”

No mention of ‘Rohingya’

The Pope’s six-day tour of South Asia comes as Myanmar faces international condemnation over a military crackdown that has driven more than 620,000 Rohingya Muslims from the country’s Rakhine state over the last three months. Many of the refugees are now in camps in neighbouring Bangladesh.

Francis has come under pressure from rights groups to speak out about the alleged atrocities against the Muslim minority, which the US and the UN labeled ethnic cleansing.

In a speech on Tuesday, the pontiff called for “respect for each ethnic group and its identity” but avoided using the highly charged term, “Rohingya.”

Catholic leaders in the predominantly Buddhist country reportedly urged him to respect the views of the Myanmar government and the majority of the population who do not consider Rohingya to be citizens, instead calling them “Bengali” — implying they are from Bangladesh.

Since arriving in Myanmar on Monday, Francis has met with civilian leader and former Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s Army chief, Min Aung Hlaing.

-(NGB, Inputs: Agencies)

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