Pope Francis defends stance on Rohingya on return to Rome

Dhaka -By Nazrul Islam, - Pope Francis on Saturday left Dhaka for Rome, bringing to a close a six-day Asian visit where he defended his restrained criticism of the Rohingya refugee crisis unfolding in the region.

During his stay in the Bangladeshi capital, Francis publicly acknowledged the plight of the Rohingya, a minority Muslim group who have crossed in their hundreds of thousands to Bangladesh, fleeing a military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
"The presence of God is today also called Rohingya," the pontiff said at an interfaith prayer service also attended by a small group of Rohingya in Dhaka.
Francis did not use the word "Rohingya" in public during the first leg of his trip, to Myanmar, where the group are not considered citizens and are instead referred to as Bengalis, implying they are interlopers from Bangladesh.
But, during his return flight to Rome on Saturday, Pope Francis defended approach to discussing the Rohingya crisis in the region, saying that it was a step-by-step process. He added that the most important thing was that his message on the issue was received and he felt it had been. He added that he had talked about the issue in private with leaders.
In Dhaka, the Pope also called on the international community to take decisive measures to end the refugee crisis as more than 624,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh after the Myanmar army launched a crackdown against the ethnic group on August 25.
Earlier on Saturday, on the third day of his Bangladesh stop, Francis compared the act of gossiping to terrorism, telling a gathering of priests and nuns that engaging in it is destructive to religious harmony.
"The enemy of harmony in a religious community is the spirit of gossip - it is a kind of terrorism," the Pope said ahead of his departure from Dhaka.
"It is just like the terrorists who don’t say I am a terrorist, but leave bombs behind. The other person then again spreads the gossip,” the pope told the crowd at a 16th century Portuguese church in central Dhaka.
Speaking at Dhaka Notre Dame College later on Saturday, the Pope asked nearly 10,000 youths to shun what he referred to as the "my way or the highway" principle.
"We use the 'my way or the highway' principle, and we become trapped, self-enclosed," he said, suggesting to the gathering of young people not to ignore the world around them.
The Pope visited Myanmar from Monday to Thursday.

Sunday, December 3rd 2017
By Nazrul Islam,

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