Pope: pastoral visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh a sign of hope for Asia

(Vatican Radio) Pope Franci s on Wednesday reflected on his just-ended apostolic journey to Myanmar and Bangladesh highlighting the value of interreligious dialogue undertaken in the first leg of the journey, and expressing solidarity with Bangladesh’s efforts to provide relief to the Rohingya refugees flooding into the nation during the second leg of his visit.
The Pope was addressing pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the weekly General Audience . 
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni :

Journey to Myanmar and Bangladesh gift from God
Interrupting briefly his series of catechetical reflections on the Sacraments, Pope Francis told those present that he wished to speak of the apostolic journey that took him to Myanmar and Bangladesh in the past days describing it as a great gift from God.
Noting that for the first time ever the successor of Peter was able to set foot on Myanmar soil, he spoke of witnessing a nation that is gradually moving towards a new experience of freedom and peace.
Importance of interreligious dialogue in Buddhist Myanmar 
He recalled some of the highlights of the visit including a meeting with young people and an open air Mass in Yangon, and he remarked on his encounter with interreligious leaders in that predominantly Buddhist country where he was able to express the importance of dialogue and cooperation in the building of a society in which everyone, with the exclusion of none, is accepted and respected.  
Christian Muslim dialogue in Bangladesh 
And then he spoke of his time in Bangladesh in the footsteps of Popes Paul VI and Saint John Paul II. In this nation of Muslim majority, he said, it represented yet “another step forward in favour of respect and dialogue between Christians and Muslims”.  
Solidarity with Rohingya refugees
He also spoke of his opportunity, whilst he was in Bangladesh, to  express solidarity with the country’s efforts to provide relief and assistance amid the crisis of the Rohingya refugees.
Pope Francis mentioned the joy expressed during his final Mass celebrated with young people in Dhaka which, he said, was attended also by young followers of Islam and other religions.  
Sign of hope for Asia
“In this way, the Pope concluded, my Pastoral Visit ended in a sign of hope for Bangladaesh, for all of Asia, and for the whole world”.
 
(from Vatican Radio)…

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Pope Francis greets Palestinian delegation

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis before his General Audience on Wednesday, greeted a Palestinian delegation hosted by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Speaking to those gathered, the Pope told them that it was his hope “that your consultations may help to open a space of sincere dialogue for the benefit of all the members of Palestinian society, and the Christian community in particular, given its small numbers and the challenges it faces, especially with regard to emigration.”
The Holy Father emphasized that, “for the Catholic Church, it is always a joy to build bridges of dialogue with communities , individuals and organizations,  adding that it was a particular joy to do so with Palestinian religious and intellectual leaders.”
Dialogue , said the Pope, “takes place at every level: with ourselves through reflection and prayer, in our families, in our religious communities, between different religious communities, and also in civil society.”  
He noted that the primary condition of that dialogue was “reciprocal respect and a commitment to strengthening that respect, for the sake of recognizing the rights of all people, wherever they happen to be.”  
The Pope remarked that The Holy Land was for Christians “the land par excellence of dialogue between God and mankind.”   He also highlighted the fact that the culmination of this dialogue took place in Nazareth between the Angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary.
The Holy Father went on to say, “that dialogue continues in a unique way between Jesus and his people, in representation of humanity as a whole.”
Concluding his greeting, Pope Francis recalled the “kindness that the Authorities of the State of Palestine, who he said, “have shown to the Christian community, acknowledging its place and its role in Palestinian society.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

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Pope appeals for wisdom and prudence to prevail over Jerusalem

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has appealed for respect for Jerusalem’s status qu o according to the pertinent United Nations Resolutions regarding the city.
Speaking after his catechesis to the crowds in the Paul VI Hall during the weekly General Audience , the Pope said “my thoughts go to Jerusalem and I cannot keep silent my deep concern for the situation that has been created in the past days”.
Listen to the report by Philippa Hitchen :

“At the same time, he continued, I would like to make a heartfelt appeal for everyone’s commitment to respect the city’s status quo, in conformity with the pertinent United Nations Resolutions”.
The Pope’s words of concern came on Wednesday ahead of an expected announcement by US President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  Arab leaders have warned the move will create turmoil and trigger violence.  
Describing Jerusalem as unique city which is “Holy for Jews, Christians and Muslims, who venerate the Holy Sites of their respective religions”, the Pope said it has a special vocation for peace.  
 
“I pray to the Lord that its identity is preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts” he said.
Earlier in the morning the Pope called for dialogue that respects the rights of everyone in the Holy Land and expressed his hope for “peace and prosperity” for the Palestinian people during a previously scheduled meeting with a Palestinian delegation of religious and intellectual leaders in the Vatican.
(from Vatican Radio)…

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