Burma’s first cardinal has said that the country’s Muslim minority could face a violent backlash if the Pope uses the term “Rohingya” on his visit there next week.
Cardinal Charles Bo told the American website Crux that if Pope Francis chose to use the term “Rohingya”, “there could be demonstrations at once, going after the Muslims”.
Pope Francis will be the first Pope to visit Burma when he arrives on Monday.
“Rohingya” is used by the country’s Muslim minority to define themselves. The United Nations has accused the Burmese military of carrying out ethnic cleansing against them.
Cardinal Bo said that if Pope Francis were to use the term, it could make it harder for the government and communities to “work in a peaceful way later on”, although he said he thought the Pope would not give it “a political connotation”.
“If he does use it, then it could be very bad for the military, the government and the Buddhist community,” the cardinal said. He noted that the Pope would be “walking a very tight rope”.
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