Friday, December 1, 2017

Pope Francis Ordains Priests And Meets With Bishops, Inter-religious Leaders and Rohingya Refugees in Dhaka

Pope Francis's Second Day in Bangladesh

Pope Francis ordains a deacon to Catholic priesthood at the solemn Mass at Suhrawardy Uddyan, Dhaka (Dec. 1, 2017)
Photo courtesy: CTV photo via BTV

More than 80,000 Catholics from all over Bangladesh attend the papal Mass at Suhrawardy Uddyan, Dhaka (Dec. 1, 2017)
Photo courtesy: Reuters

Pope meets with Catholic Bishops of Bangladesh at the Archbishop's House, Ramna, Dhaka (Dec. 1, 2017)
Photo courtesy: Osservatore Romano

More than 80,000 Catholics from around Bangladesh, a number of government officials, members of foreign diplomatic corps, inter-religious leaders, and ecumenical Church leaders attended Pope Francis's solemn concelebrated Mass at Suhrawarthy Uddyan park in Dhaka today, reports various news sources. 

In his homily, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to all and said: "I know that many of you came from afar, for a trip for more than two days. Thank you for your generosity. This indicates the love you have for the Church," reports the Daily Star. 

He also encouraged and inspired 16 deacons by saying: "you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood.  For your part, you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher.  Impart to everyone the word of God which you have received with joy.  Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practice what you teach."

Meeting Bangladesh's Catholic bishops at the Archbishop's House at Ramna, he appreciated the pastoral plan of the bishops and encouraged them to continue their work earnestly. He laid emphasis on the importance of the laity in the Church, saying: "At the same time, I would ask you to show ever greater pastoral closeness to the lay faithful.  There is a need to promote their effective participation in the life of your particular Churches, not least through the canonical structures that provide for their voices to be heard and their experiences acknowledged.  Recognize and value the charisms of lay men and women, and encourage them to put their gifts at the service of the Church and of society as a whole.  I think here of the many dedicated catechists in this country, whose apostolate is essential for the growth of the faith and for the Christian formation of the next generation.  They are true missionaries and leaders of prayer, especially in the more remote areas.  Be concerned for their spiritual needs and for their continuing education in the faith."

In the inter-religious peace gathering at the same compound, Pope Francis welcomed all and encouraged them to work for solidarity, harmony, and peace. He also said: "Openness of heart is likewise a path that leads to the pursuit of goodness, justice and solidarity.... A spirit of openness, acceptance and cooperation between believers does not simply contribute to a culture of harmony and peace; it is its beating heart."

Meeting with some Myanmar Rohingya refugees in the gathering, he said: "The presence of God today is also called Rohingya... In the name of all of those who have persecuted you, hurt you, I ask forgiveness. I appeal to your large hearts to give us the forgiveness that we are asking."

Pope Francis rides on a cycle rickshaw at the Archbishop's House at Ramna, Dhaka (Dec. 1, 2017)
Photo courtesy: AP

Pope Francis also rode on a cycle rickshaw in the Archbishop's House compound in Dhaka. He is the second Pope to do so. The first pope to ride on a rickshaw was Pope John Paul II in his 1986 visit to Bangladesh. The Guinness Book of World Records should consider to mention Pope John Paul II's name as the first rickshaw-riding pope in the world in more than 2,000-year history of the Catholic Church. 

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(Updated on Dec. 4, 2017)

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