Pope Francis carefully avoided using the word 'Rhoyinga', to save the lives of christians

Updated Friday 1 December 2017 15:31
Pope Francis carefully avoided using the word 'Rhoyinga', to save the lives of christians
Pope Francis has proven that he can be both a diplomat and a prophet. Prior to visiting Myanmar, the pope was urged by human rights activists to condemn the murder, rape and ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar military. Hundreds of villages in Rakhine state were burned by the military, and over half a million Rohingya fled as refugees to Bangladesh.

But Myanmar's cardinal, Archbishop Charles Bo, asked the pope not to use the word "Rohingya" because he feared the small Catholic minority would be attacked by the Buddhist majority who see the Rohingya as illegal aliens who are a threat to their nation. The military denies any persecution is taking place, even though the evidence collected by journalists and human rights organizations is overwhelming.

Thus, Pope Francis was faced with a terrible dilemma: Be prophetic and put at risk Christians in Myanmar, or be silent and compromise his moral authority.

Pope Francis chose neither. Instead he carefully threaded the needle by being both prophetic and diplomatic. He told Myanmar's leaders that the country's people have suffered "from civil conflict and hostilities that have lasted for too long" and called for "peace based on respect for the dignity and rights of each member of society, respect for each ethnic group and its identity," without using the word Rohingya.

No one misunderstood his message. Although the media noted his not using the word Rohingya, they also knew and reported that in his speech he was referring to the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in Myanmar, especially the Rohingya Muslims.

Rohingya activists and human rights activists were not satisfied. They wanted him to specifically and publicly criticize the military and the government for its treatment of the Rohingya. I certainly understand and sympathize with their view

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Article Posted 9 Months ago

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