Pope Francis will visit Myanmar and Bangladesh in November, the Vatican has confirmed. Greg Burke, the director of the Vatican press office, announced on August 28 that the Holy Father will travel to Myanmar on November 27, remaining in that country until November 30. He will stop in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from November 30 to December 2 before returning to Rome.
The possibility of a papal trip to Myanmar had been a subject of heavy speculation for several weeks. The plan for a stop in Bangla-desh, a heavily Islamic country, was not generally anticipated.
Some Buddhist leaders in Myanmar had expressed opposition to a papal visit, because of the Vatican’s public protests against the persecution of the country’s (Muslim) Rohin-gya ethnic minority.
Pope Francis had repeated his pleas for the Rohingya in his regular public audience on Sunday, August 27: the day before his trip was announced.
In Myanmar the Pope will visit the cities of Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, Burke said. The papal spokesman did not mention any cities in Bangladesh other than the capital, Dhaka, as stops on the papal itinerary. More details of the schedule for the papal trip are expected soon. The motto for his visit to Bangladesh is “Harmony and Peace.” According to the explanation given, it’s a call to harmony among “religions, cultures, peoples, society, history, heritage and traditions” in the country, while peace refers to that experience, “as well as a future aspiration with a vision of integrat-ed human and spiritual development in Bangladesh.”
“Love and Peace” this is the motto of Francis’s visit to Myanmar. “Christian peace is founded on Love,” says the statement released by the Vatican. “There cannot be peace without love. Love, which the people of Myanmar value most, will pave the way to peace. The visit of our Holy Father is to promote Love and Peace in Myanmar.”
After the trip was confirmed, Bishop Paul Ponen Kubi of Mymensingh, Bangladesh, told Crux that the “tiny minority” that is the Church in his country lives in communion with the universal Church, and also “in harmony and peace with different cultures, religions and society.”