Pope celebrates open-air Mass at Suhrawardy Udyan
Published : Friday, 1 December, 2017 at 11:01 AM Count : 323
Pope Francis celebrated an open-air Mass in Suhrawardy Udyan on the second day of his visit to Bangladesh.
About 100,000 Catholics from around the country were estimated to have joined event.
The 80-year-old pontiff arrived Bangladesh on Thursday after his diplomatically sensitive trip to Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where he made no direct reference to the over half a million of Rohingya Muslims who fled the country’s Rakhine state and crossed into Bangladesh.
Bangladesh President Md Abdul Hamid received him at the Dhaka airport, from where the Catholic Church leader went to the National Memorial in Savar to pay tributes to the 1971 Liberation War martyrs.
He then visited the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum in the capital before heading to the Bangabhaban where he had a private meeting with Hamid.
In his address at the presidential palace to government officials, diplomats and members of the civil society, he called on the international community to take “decisive measures” to resolve not only the political issue surrounding the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, but also to provide “immediate material assistance” to respond to the humanitarian needs.
He, however, did not use the word ‘Rohingya’ in Dhaka, just like he did not in Myanmar instead spoke of “refugees from the Rakhine state”.
“None of us can fail to be aware of the gravity of the situation, the immense toll of human suffering involved, and the precarious living conditions of so many of our brothers and sisters, a majority of whom are women and children, crowded in the refugee camps,” said Pope Francis.
Following the Mass on Friday, he will hold talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Vatican embassy.
Later in the day, the pope will hold a meeting with bishops at Ramna Cathedral in Kakrail and attend an Interreligious and Ecumenical Meeting for Peace there to preach communal harmony.
On Saturday, he will visit the Mother Teresa Homes in Tejgaon. The visit will be followed by meetings with priests and religious leaders at the Holy Rosary Church. Pope Francis will visit the graveyard there afterwards.
In the afternoon, he will attend a session to exchange views with the youths at the Notre Dame College.
He will leave Dhaka at 5pm Saturday after being seen off by Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali at the airport.