‘Forgive the world’s indifference’

DHAKA: Pope Francis asked for forgiveness on Friday from the minority Muslim refugees who have been forced to flee a military crackdown in Myanmar to Bangladesh, using the word “Rohingya” for the first time during his trip to the region. “In the name of everyone, of those who persecute you, of those who have done you wrong, above all, the world’s indifference, I ask you for forgiveness,” Francis said in Dhaka.
“I now appeal to your big heart, that you are able to grant us the forgiveness we seek.”
The pope refrained from speaking directly about the Rohingya while in Myanmar, where the local Catholic Church urged him to respect the views of the majority of the population, which does not consider Rohingya to be citizens and calls them “Bengali,” inferring they are from Bangladesh. “The presence of God is today also called Rohingya,” said the pontiff, calling for help for the persecuted Muslims.
“We will continue to help them. We will continue to help so that their right is acknowledged and recognised. We will not close our hearts, we will not look the other way,” the Pope told a gathering in Dhaka after a meeting with a group of 18 Rohingya.
The group was brought from the south-eastern Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar where the refugees live in squalid camps. They met Francis following an interfaith prayer attended by leaders of the Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious minorities.
Francis listened to their stories and shook hands with all of them, including two women wearing black burqas and two children, and assured them of continuous help. — dpa