Pope Francis Arrived in Myanmar
Pope Francis arrived today in Yangon, the economic capital of the Myanmar-populated Buddhist population, at the beginning of the first visit of the head of the Roman Catholic Church to that country, the world's agencies reported.
Nearly 30,000 followers with portraits of Francis and greeting messages in their hand were on the road leading from the airport to the Archbishop's residence, where Francis would stay until tomorrow, when he will head to the capital Nabidoda, the DPA said. Only 700,000 of Myanmar's 51 million people are Catholics. Thousands of them traveled by trains and buses from across the country to Yangon to see the pope.
The visit that is taking place diring heavy charges against security forces in ethnic cleansing of the Muslim community, the Pope will talk to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She and the military deny the charges. Pope Francis will also have meetings with President Tchien Chao and Army Commander Ming Aung Chaling. It is assumed that the Holy Father will raise the issue of the Rohingya population before them, but the Myanmar Catholic Church advises him to refrain from mentioning the Muslim groups directly in order not to touch a very sensitive subject.
Many in Myanmar, including the government, use the Bengal name for the ethnic group to imply that they are intruders from Bangladesh and question the UN's claims that these people are subjected to persecution by the army. The Pope will be in Myanmar from November 27 to November 30, and from November 30 to December 2 will be visiting Bangladesh. His voyage was planned before the escalation of the rohingya crisis.
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