Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church, the largest Christian Church of the world, may visit Bangladesh and Myanmar in November, Argentine news agency Telam said.
Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, of Bangladesh, told cruxnow.com that a Vatican team will be travelling to the country on the third week of August to define the date and the pope’s schedule during the visit.
He also said that preparations for the trip began in May.
Despite his original plan of visiting India, it appears Pope Francis will instead go to Myanmar and Bangladesh, two countries where Catholics represent a very small minority.
Pope Francis’s public calendar shows he’s cancelled the weekly general audience for Nov 29, considering the 12 plus hours for a Rome-Dhaka flight.
He created first-ever cardinals for both countries: Cardinal Charles Bo in Myanmar and D’Rozario in Bangladesh, the report said.
Rohingya have been fleeing Myanmar in the face of rising levels of persecution, including rapes and extra-judicial killings.
A UN report in February described their situation as a possible “genocide” and a set of “crimes against humanity.”
Soon after that report, Francis asked the thousands gathered in Rome for his weekly audience to remember the Rohingya Muslims.
“And speaking of migrants, driven out, exploited … I would like to pray today with you in a special way for our brothers and sisters Rohingya,” he said.
Bangladesh has a Catholic population of 0.3 per cent, according to the Catholic Almanac. The majority of the population, some 90 per cent, is Muslim.
Myanmar, on the other hand, is a Buddhist majority country, with less than five per cent of the total population being Christian, and a little over one per cent being Catholic.