Pope Francis defends his strategy of avoiding the term “Rohingya” in Burma, saying he believes he got his message across to both the civilian and military leadership without shutting down dialogue.
The Vatican on Wednesday defended Pope Francis’s decision not to use the word “Rohingya” in public during his visit to Burma, saying his moral authority was unblemished and that his mere presence drew attention to the refugee crisis.
Pope Francis on Tuesday urged the leaders of majority-Buddhist Burma, mired in a crisis over the fate of Muslim Rohingya people, to commit themselves to justice, human rights and respect for “each ethnic group and its identity.”
Pope Francis met leaders of several faiths in majority-Buddhist Burma on Tuesday, stressing the importance of “unity in diversity” but making no mention the Rohingya Muslims who have fled en masse to Bangladesh after a military crackdown.
Tens of thousands of Catholics are expected to throng Yangon on Wednesday when Pope Francis will conduct Mass at Kyite Ka San Stadium.
The European Union deals a blow to what had been increasingly warm ties between the bloc and Burma’s military, saying it will suspend any invitations to the Tatmadaw’s top brass and “review all practical defence cooperation,” as well as maintaining an existing arms embargo.