"I was very, very satisfied with the talks that I was able to have," he said, explaining that while he didn't have "the pleasure of throwing the door in the face, publicly, a denouncement," he was able to have "the satisfaction of dialoguing and letting the other speak and to say my part."
In the end, Pope Francis said his message got across, and that "this is very important in communications, the concern that the message will arrive."
The Pope told journalists that he didn't know whether he would have the opportunity to meet with Rohingya representatives while in Bangladesh. He thanked the Bangladeshi government for allowing the Rohingya to join him for the Dec. 1 interreligious encounter, saying the country is a good example of what it means to welcome and to have open doors.
Many of the 18 Rohingya present at the meeting didn't know they would meet him either, Francis said, explaining that they were taken from the crowd and told to get in line to greet him, but not to say anything.
"I didn't like that," he said. And when the organizers tried to usher them off stage right away, "I got mad and a chewed them out a bit," he said, confessing that "I'm a sinner."
After hearing each of them share their stories, Francis said he was moved and wanted to say something to them spontaneously, so he offered a brief prayer in which he asked for forgiveness on behalf of all who harmed them.
"In that moment I cried. I tried not to let it be seen. They cried too," he said, noting that the other religious leaders who came up to greet them were also moved.
By doing things in this way, Pope Francis said he felt that "the message had arrived. Part was planned, but the majority came out spontaneously."
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the Rohingya were denied Burmese citizenship in 1948. This was incorrect. Burmese citizenship was denied to Rohingya people in 1982.
Elise Harris was senior Rome correspondent for CNA from 2012 to 2018.