Vatican City, Nov 17, 2017 / 05:29 am
On Friday, Pope Francis sent a video greeting to the people of Burma – also known as Myanmar – ahead of his Nov. 27-30 trip, saying he is coming to proclaim the Gospel and promote peace in a country gripped by a heated humanitarian and political crisis surrounding the Rohingya Muslim minority.
In the video, published Nov. 17, the said he wants to “confirm the Catholic community of Myanmar in its faith in God and in its testimony of the Gospel, which teaches the dignity of every man and woman, and demands (us) to open our hearts to others, especially to the poor and the needy.”
Above all, Francis said he is coming “to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ: a message of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace.”
The visit to Burma is the first of two stops in a Nov. 27-Dec. 2 trip that will also take Pope Francis to Bangladesh.
It also takes place amid an uptick in state-supported violence against Burma's Rohingya Muslim community – an ethnic and religious minority – which in recent months has reached staggering levels, causing the United Nations to declare the situation “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
With an increase in violent persecution in their home country, many of the Rohingya population has fled to neighboring Bangladesh, with millions camping along the border as refugees.
In his video message, the Pope thanked everyone working in preparation of his visit and asked for their prayers, that it would be “a source of hope and encouragement for everyone.” He said he also hopes to visit the country in a “spirit of respect and encouragement,” so the nation may endeavor to “build harmony and cooperation in serving the common good.”
Many people at this time, both believers and people of goodwill, feel an increasing need to grow in mutual understanding and respect as “members of the only human family,” he said, “because we are all children of God.”