Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 16 April |
Saint of the Day: St. Bernadette Soubirous
home iconChurch
line break icon

Bangladesh: The 3 central issues of Pope Francis’ visit

POPE ARRIVES IN BANGLADESH

Handout | OBSERVATORE ROMANO | AFP

Aymeric Pourbaix: I.Media for Aleteia - published on 11/30/17

Though very different from Myanmar, here Francis will echo certain strains of the same message he gave during the first leg of his trip.

Myanmar and Bangladesh are two very different countries: one is located in China’s sphere of influence—Myanmar—and the other—Bangladesh—is in that of India.

However, for Pope Francis, there is a connection between the two countries: his concern to save each of them from its tendency to close in upon itself.

The pope told Buddhists, the majority of Myanmar’s population, who are tempted by nationalism in the name of the purity of the Myanmar race: beware of isolationism! He has the same message in Bangladesh, where Islam is the state religion. There, in a similar way, the temptation to radical Islam is not far off. In recent years, the attitude towards intellectuals and Christians has hardened. Not to mention terrorist attacks, like that in Dhaka in July 2016, right in the middle of the diplomatic quarter.

During his meeting with religious leaders on Friday, the pope is expected to remind them, as he has done with political authorities, that there can be no violence in the name of God.

The current Rohingya refugee problem is a second connection between Myanmar and Bangladesh, although it is nothing but the consequence of this rise in ethnic and religious nationalism. On this point, the Holy See is bringing a bit of reason to the media world; while the fate of these Myanmar refugees living in camps in Bangladesh is clearly tragic, the solution is far from “easy,” as the bishops of Myanmar stated during their evaluation of the pope’s visit to their country. Today, the 900,000 Rohingyas can neither stay in Bangladesh, already overpopulated and poor, nor return to their country without paying the price of being persecuted anew.

Instead of focusing on whether or not to pronounce the term Rohingya, international opinion, the bishops continued, would benefit from “studying” a bit more the reality on the ground, and the long history of the conflict. This would help them to understand why the Holy See is more concerned with finding long-term solutions to strengthen the fragile democracy in Myanmar than with providing a facile, immediate answer to the legitimate emotions that arise in the face of the suffering of these refugees.

The third issue that joins the two countries is religious freedom. The Church teaches that particular cultures need to be saved by the Catholic faith—by its universality. But that presupposes a condition: that the political authorities allow the Church the possibility of practicing its faith and carrying out its works. Along these lines, the reputation of Catholic schools in these countries is well established, and they are a good remedy for the illiteracy that is still devastating these countries, especially Bangladesh.

Also, this Friday, December 1, the Pope will ordain 16 priests in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. There is no doubt that, as he did with Myanmar Catholics, he will entrust them with the task of healing the wounds of the nation through the cross of Christ. “The world turns, the cross remains,” say the Carthusians.

Tags:
Pope Francis
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
SPANISH FLU
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
2
LOREN SCHAUERS
Annalisa Teggi
Amputee from the waist down is thankful every day to be alive
3
HOLY SEPULCHRE CROSSES
Zelda Caldwell
Mystery of crosses on walls of Church of the Holy Sepulchre may h...
4
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
5
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
St. Padre Pio: His life, his miracles and his legacy
6
PRAY
Philip Kosloski
Catholic prayers for strength
7
COUPLE
Cerith Gardiner
7 Joys to be had from a lengthy marriage
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.