“One who doesn’t suffer with suffering brothers . . . must question himself on the sincerity of his faith and of his humanity, said Pope Francis, on December 6, 2017, recalling the situation of the Rohingya minority, persecuted in Myanmar.
Greeting the Arabic-speaking visitors, in the course of the General Audience over which the Holy Father presided in Paul VI Hall, especially the pilgrims of Jordan, the Holy Land, and the Middle East, the Pontiff recalled the Bengali-speaking Sunni Muslims that live in the northwest of the state of Arakan (Rakhine), four days after his 21st Apostolic Journey to Myanmar and Bangladesh.
“One who doesn’t suffer with a suffering brother, even if he is different from him by race, religion, language or culture, must question himself on the sincerity of his faith and his humanity,” affirmed Pope Francis.
”I was particularly touched by the meeting with Rohingya refugees, and I asked them to forgive us for our failures and our silence, in asking the International Community to aid and help all the oppressed and persecuted groups in the world,” confided the Pontiff.
“May the Lord bless you all and protect you from the Evil One!” concluded the Pope.
The question of the Rohingyas was among the most important of this trip of the Pope (November 27-December 2). If he was silent in Myanmar about their very controversial name, in Bangladesh he launched a clear appeal, at the end of an inter-religious and ecumenical prayer for peace at Dhaka. On the podium, where he took part in the prayer with representatives of different Confessions, Pope Francis met 16 Rohingyas – 12 men, four women of which two were girls – listening to their stories with the help of an interpreter.
“We are close to you,” he assured them. “We can do little because your tragedy is very great. But we make room for you in our heart. On behalf of all those that persecute you, those who have hurt you and for the world’s indifference, I ask your pardon. Pardon. Many among you have spoken to me of Bangladesh’s great heart that has welcomed you. At present, I appeal to your great heart that it be capable of giving the pardon for which we ask.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, let us show the world what the egoism of the world does with the image of God,” continued the Pontiff. “Let’s continue to do them good, to help them, let us continue to act so that their rights are recognized. Let us not close our hearts; let us not look the other way. The presence of God today is also called Rohingya. Let each one of us give his response.
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester