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A Papal Refrain on Rohingya - An Urge for Respect and Dignity of all Ethnic Groups

In defense of ethnic rights, Pope Francis in a keynote address in Myanmar, has demanded "respect for each ethnic group". Yet, he refrained from identifying the Rohingya people, thus bowing to the wishes of the local Cardinal, who had urged restraint on naming the persecuted group because Myanmar authorities reject the name Rohingya opting to use the term "Bengalis".

While Pope Francis made no direct reference to the Rohingya people, the BBC-News editorialized that "the Pope's speech was a strong defense of ethnic rights."

The head of the Catholic Church proclaimed: "The future of Myanmar must be peace, a peace based on respect for the dignity and rights of each member of society, respect for each ethnic group and its identity, respect for the rule of law, and respect for a democratic order that enables each individual and every group - none excluded - to offer its legitimate contribution to the common good," the BBC-News reported.

Pope Francis, who is in Myanmar until he travels to Bangladesh on Thursday as the first Pope to visit the mostly Muslim nation since 1986, has used the term Rohingya before, but Myanmar's Catholic Church had asked him not to repeat the term during his visit to avoid any difficulties for local Catholics in the mostly Buddhist Myanmar.

"Religious differences, " Pope Francis said, "need not be a source of division and distrust, but rather a force for unity, forgiveness, tolerance and wise nation-building, " the BBC-News reported.

However, Pope Francis's refrain from using the name Rohingya in his speech, clearly underscores the uphill battle the persecuted Rohingya people face toward social and national recognition within Myanmar. 

Moreover, the Pope's refrain from directly naming the Rohingya people, is an indication and a demonstration of the limited actions that others could do to help the meek and weak. 

Therefore, those meek, weak, persecuted and excluded, ought now to grab their own destinies into their hands and drag them into reality because leaning on others could prolong the victimization process for justice, thus signifying a deferment of rights to an identity, rights to a nationality and the rights to basis human principles.

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