CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 November 2018

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Pope Francis to Myanmar

MANDALAY (UCAN): Pope Francis is to pay an impromptu visit to the Union of Myanmar. His intention is to focus his visit on the troubled Rankine state where for years some one million Muslim Rohingya people have suffered persecution and dispossession.
 
Invited by the president, Htin Kyaw, Pope Francis anticipates making his visit during the dry season in November. It will be the first visit of a pope to the country.
 
News of his visit has already drawn the ire of some Buddhist groups that have fanned sectarian violence and protests, especially against the Rohingya and other Muslims, over the past five years.
 
“No, no, don’t come... don’t visit if you come to Myanmar for Bengalis… we oppose the visit if he uses the word Rohingya,” are examples of postings in several Facebook pages.
 
Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam, from Bhamo in the Kachin State, said a visit by Pope Francis to Myanmar is most likely, although he said he had not officially been informed.
 
“The Catholic bishops invited Pope Francis before the 500th anniversary of Catholicism in Myanmar in late 2014,” Bishop Gam said.
 
“Some improvements have occurred such as diplomatic relations between Myanmar and Vatican plus the appointment of an apostolic nuncio,” he said.
 
Although unofficial, rumour has it Pope Francis will arrive in Myanmar on November 27 and stay four nights.
 
He is expected to first visit the capital, Naypyidaw, to meet the president and state counsellor and foreign affairs minister, Aung San Suu Kyi.
 
He is expected to celebrate at least two Masses before heading to Yangon for a large open air Mass, as well as one at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Major Seminary in Yangon.

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