Pope Francis to visit Burma amid ethnic violence
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 8/28/17, 10:51 am
Pope Francis will visit Burma and Bangladesh in November, the Vatican and Catholic leaders in the Southeast Asian country announced Monday. The trip to Burma, also called Myanmar, would be the first by a pope to the predominantly Buddhist country. Pope John Paul II visited neighboring Bangladesh in 1986. The announcement comes amid heightened clashes between the Buddhist majority and the minority Muslim Rohingya ethnic group. More than 70 people died in battles last week. The Rohingyas are viewed as illegal immigrants and have accused Burmese security forces of attacking their villages and forcing them to flee. Local officials in neighboring Bangladesh said some 1,000 ethnic Rohingya villagers have fled into their country following last week’s clashes. The Vatican said the theme of the pope’s visit will be peace and harmony among religions, cultures, and traditions. On Sunday, Pope Francis referred to the persecution of the Rohingya ethnic group and called on the faithful at St. Peter’s Square to pray for them.
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Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.