22:57 GMT28 February 2021
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    The political undertone of Pope Francis’ visit to Myanmar suggests the Catholic Church’s innate concern over the plight of the Christian minority in the country which has been accused of “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” for its treatment of Rohingya Muslims.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): Pope Francis arrived in Myanmar today amid heightened speculations on whether or not the papal visit to a country facing allegations of apartheid will be strictly limited to diplomacy. The visit of the supreme head of the Catholic Church comes at a time when Myanmar is facing global criticism for its "undeclared apartheid" or "ethnic cleansing" inflicted upon the Rohingya Muslim community.

    While the western media was abuzz with speculations of Pope's advisers having suggested him to not use the word Rohingya during his stay in the south Asian country, media persons accompanying Pope were clear that the Rohingya refugee crisis would remain at the core of the Papal visit.

    "Vatican sources are clear on the fact that Rohingya crisis will figure in almost all the meeting which Pope does with the civilian and military leadership. Vatican communication channels have clarified that Rohingya is not a prohibited word. Pope is also slated to talk at the Supreme Buddhist Council in Myanmar during his visit," George Kallivayalil, Associate Editor and Delhi Bureau Chief of Deepika Malayalam Daily told Sputnik.

    Meanwhile, the Pope's visit has revived the concerns of the Christian minority in Myanmar who have been feeling the heat of the alleged military action against religious and ethnic minorities. Catholics in large numbers including nuns and priests had traveled hundreds of miles to Yangon to have an audience with their spiritual father on his arrival.

    READ MORE: Pope Francis to Visit Myanmar With Message of Peace, Reconciliation

    George Kallivayalil who is part of the media team accompanying the Pope said that the plight of the Christian community in the Buddhist majority Myanmar would also be a focal point of the Pope's interactions with the country's leadership.

    "The statement of the Cardinal of Yangon in Myanmar about the sad plight of the minority Christians in Myanmar and the atrocities faced by them is also important. It is a fact that in the light of the severe crisis and atrocities faced by the Rohingya Muslims, the stories of Christian persecution has remained under-reported," George Kallivayalil told Sputnik.

    Pope Francis landed at the Yangon International Airport Monday afternoon on a chartered plane along with a strong media team comprising 75 members drawn from 60 countries.


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