The Pope’s meeting with the Rohingya is significant, as their plight has been an underlying theme throughout his visit to both Burma and Bangladesh. After meeting several Rohingya Muslims and hearing their stories in Bangladesh, Pope Francis uttered a moving prayer from the heart, affirming their dignity and asking forgiveness on behalf of all who persecute the Burmese minority.
“In the name of all who have persecuted you and persecute you, that have done you harm, above all, the world’s indifference, I ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness,” the Pope said. Although there’s “little we can do because your tragedy is very hard and great,” he told them “we give you space in the heart.”
From the celebrities accounted as adherents, to nuns, to the president and his parish, the Catholic Church in Korea is alive and purposeful. In 2016, 74% of all baptisms in Korea were of adults. Ten years ago, that percentage was 84%.
South Korea has an abundance of women religious: There are approximately 10,170 sisters spread between 78 papal jurisdiction orders and 36 diocesan religious institutes. There are some 1,560 religious brothers.
As Pope Francis continues his visit to Burma – also known as Myanmar – this week, he is encountering a country where life for Catholics can be difficult. Just 1.3 percent of the population in Burma is Catholic, and while freedom of religion exists on paper, evangelizing in the majority Buddhist country is met with obstacles.
“The presence of foreign missionaries is not allowed. They’re afraid you’ll proselytize,” according to a Spanish missionary who has been in Burma for seven years. “In fact, the brothers from native Burmese communities, even though they are recognized as such, officially they cannot evangelize. There are almost no conversions here; the growth of Christianity is mostly from births.”
But those who are Catholic are enthusiastic about their faith. The missionary said they expect some 300,000 people to attend the papal events with Pope Francis, out of about 700,000 Catholics in the country.