Pope Francis ended a diplomatic trip to Asia on Saturday, seeking the forgiveness of Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh after his controversial decision to not directly refer to their plight when he visited their homeland, Myanmar. Later in a speech to an audience of around 7,000 young Catholics, Muslims, and followers of other religions, the pope spoke about welcoming and accepting those who “act and think differently than ourselves”. “When a people, a religion, or a society turns into a ‘little world’, they lose the best that they have and plunge into a self-righteous mentality of ‘I am good and you are bad’,” Francis said at the Notre Dame College, founded by Catholic priests. Francis said he was very pleased by an inter-religious meeting on Friday night, where he had an emotional meeting with refugees from Myanmar and then used the word Rohingya for the first time on his current trip, saying they had God within them and should be respected. He also sought their forgiveness in the name of all who persecuted them. Previously, in Myanmar, he followed the advice of Myanmar Church officials who said his use of the word could prompt a backlash against Christians and hurt that country’s fragile path to democracy. That had disappointed rights groups such as Amnesty International, which has said Myanmar’s “security forces were carrying out a systematic, organized and ruthless campaign of violence against the Rohingya population.”

 

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