Today, we continue our highlight coverage of the Pope’s trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh where he has officially begun the second leg of his tour.
Before leaving Myanmar, the Pope traveled to St. Mary's Cathedral in Yangon for Mass with young people who came from all over the country to join him.
He urged them to pursue lives of faith, hope, and love and asked them to serve their struggling nation with prayer, solidarity and a defense of human rights. "Don’t be afraid to make a ruckus", the Pope told them. "Ask questions that make people think. And don't worry if sometimes you feel that you are few and far between. The Gospel always grows from small beginnings. So make yourselves heard. Be young and be bold.”
Arriving in Bangladesh later in the day, Pope Francis wasted no time in mentioning the plight of the refugees who have been a source of concern for him for more than two years. "The eyes of the world", he said, "have watched Bangladesh take the refugees in. But clearly, the situation is still dire." CNS has the report.
After this, Pope Francis met and had a private meeting with Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid at the presidential palace, after which he publicly addressed the president, government officials, diplomats and leaders of Bangladeshi society.
In his speech to the Pope, President Hamid told him that his government had sheltered a million Rohingya. Unfortunately, he said, "thousands of them, including women and children, were brutally killed, thousands of women were violated." The president also spoke of interreligious dialogue and harmony among all groups in the nation where the majority of people are Muslim “Bangladeshis. He said they “have a tradition of coexistence and believe that religion is personal, but its festivals are universal and something, neighbours of different faiths celebrate with each other.”
Addressing the audience, Pope Francis said that "Only through sincere dialogue and respect for legitimate diversity, can a people reconcile divisions, overcome unilateral perspectives and recognize the validity of differing viewpoints because true dialogue looks to the future. It builds unity in the service of the common good and is concerned for the needs of all citizens, especially the poor, the underprivileged and those who have no voice."
On Friday, the Pope will celebrate Mass and an ordination of priests at Suhrawardy Udyan Park, followed by a visit to the country's prime minister at the apostolic nunciature, followed by a visit to the Cathedral. He will meet with the Bangladesh bishops at a residence for elderly priests. And finally, he will attend an interreligious and ecumenical meeting for peace at the garden of the archbishop's residence.
Again, you can follow all our coverage, read the complete texts of the Pope’s speeches or catch highlights of the journey thus far on our website listed here.
That is all for today. Join us again on Monday when I will bring you more coverage of the final days of the Pope's historic trip to Bangladesh. Thanks for joining us.
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