Defend God’s image by defending the Rohingya, pope urges

Pope Francis touches the head of a young woman as he meets Rohingya refugees from Myanmar during an interreligious and ecumenical meeting for peace in the garden of the archbishop's residence in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dec. 1. -CNS photo | Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

DHAKA, Bangladesh (CNS) — Each human being is created in the image and likeness of God, yet so often people desecrate that image with violence as seen in the treatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya minority, Pope Francis said.

“Today, the presence of God is also called ‘Rohingya,'” the pope said Dec. 1 after meeting, clasping hands with and listening intently to 16 Rohingya who have found shelter in Bangladesh.

“They, too, are images of the living God,” Pope Francis told a gathering of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu leaders gathered in Dhaka for an interreligious meeting for peace.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” he told the crowd, “let us show the world what its selfishness is doing to the image of God.”

“Let’s keeping helping” the Rohingya, he said. “Let’s continue working so their rights are recognized. Let’s not close our hearts. Let’s not look away.”

The Rohingya, like all people, are created in God’s image, the pope insisted. “Each of us must respond.”
The refugees traveled to Dhaka from Cox’s Bazar, the southern Bangladeshi city hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled Myanmar. More than 620,000 Rohingya have crossed the border into Bangladesh since late August.

Speaking directly to them, Pope Francis said, “We are all close to you.”

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