Pope Francis has met with a group of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and asked for their forgiveness for the international community’s silence to their persecution.
The Pope’s comments in Bangladesh came after he avoided mentioning the Rohingya by name during his visit to Myanmar.
He told Rohingya refugees who travelled from Cox Bazar to Dhaka: “Each human being is created in the image and likeness of God, yet so often people desecrate that image with violence as seen in the treatment of Burma’s Rohingya minority.
“Today, the presence of God is also called ‘Rohingya’.
“In the name of all those who have persecuted you and have done you harm, especially for the indifference of the world, I ask forgiveness.”
The Pope insisted “mere tolerance” for people of other religions or ethnic groups was not enough to create a society where everyone’s rights are respected and peace reigns.
More than 600,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh since August due to persecution at the hands of the army and Buddhist militias.
Pope Francis was criticised for not referring to the Rohingya by name in his visit to Myanmar, and instead chose to refer to them as “Bengalis”.
He responded to critics by saying that he avoided using the term “Rohingya” so his message would be heard by the Myanmar authorities.