By Carol Glatz | Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh will offer moments to recognize each nation’s struggle for independence, underline interreligious respect and encourage the local minority Catholic communities.
Pope Francis will visit Myanmar Nov. 27-30, just months after the Holy See announced it had established full diplomatic relations with the southeast Asian nation. He will meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de facto leader and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
The visit also comes as serious questions have been raised about her government’s treatment of the Rohingya people, who are Muslim.
Pope Francis has appealed for their protection on several occasions, calling the Rohingya, “good people” who “are our brothers and sisters. They have been suffering for years. They have been tortured, killed, just because they want to keep their traditions and their Muslim faith.”
Another highlight on the trip — the pope’s 21st trip abroad in his five-year pontificate — will be meeting with the high-ranking Buddhist monks at the capital’s peace pagoda.
According to the Vatican’s latest statistics, Myanmar has about 659,000 Catholics out of a population of about 51 million.
The pope will visit the capital of Bangladesh Nov. 30-Dec. 2; he will ordain new priests and visit a Missionaries of Charity center for assisting poor children.
According to Vatican statistics, there are about 375,000 Catholics in Bangladesh, about 0.3 percent of the population. The vast majority of people in the country are Muslims.
Here is the detailed schedule released by the Vatican. Times are local, with Eastern Standard Time in parentheses:
Sunday, Nov. 26 (Rome)
— 9:40 p.m. (3:40 p.m.) Departure from Rome’s Fiumicino airport.
Monday, Nov. 27 (Yangon)
— 1:30 p.m. (2 a.m.) Arrival at Yangon International Airport.
Tuesday, Nov. 28 (Yangon, Naypyitaw, Yangon)
— 2 p.m. (2:30 a.m.) Departure by plane for Naypyitaw.
— 3:10 p.m. (3:40 a.m.) Arrival at Naypyitaw airport.
— 3:50 p.m. (4:20 a.m.) Welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace.
— 4 p.m. (4:30 a.m.) Courtesy visit to Htin Kyaw, president of the republic, at the presidential palace.
— 4:30 p.m. (5 a.m.) Meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, state counselor and foreign minister, the country’s de-facto leader.
— 5:15 p.m. (5:45 a.m.) Meeting with government authorities, members of civil society and the diplomatic corps in the city’s international convention center. Speech by pope.
— 6:20 p.m. (6:50 a.m.) Departure by plane for Yangon.
— 7:25 p.m. (7:55 a.m.) Arrival at Yangon airport, transfer to archbishop’s residence.
Wednesday, Nov. 29 (Yangon)
— 9:30 a.m. (10 p.m. Nov. 28) Mass at Kyaikkasan sports ground. Homily by pope.
— 4:15 p.m. (4:45 a.m.) Meeting with the Sangha supreme council of Buddhist monks at the Kaba Aye pagoda. Speech by pope.
— 5:15 p.m. (5:45 a.m.) Meeting with the bishops of Myanmar at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Speech by pope.
Thursday, Nov. 30 (Yangon, Dhaka)
— 10:15 a.m. (10:45 p.m. Nov. 29) Mass with young people in St. Mary’s Cathedral. Homily by pope.
— 12:45 p.m. (1:15 a.m.) Farewell ceremony at Yangon International Airport.
— 1:05 p.m. (1:35 a.m.) Departure by plane for Dhaka, Bangladesh.
— 3 p.m. (4 a.m.) Arrival at Dhaka’s international airport. Welcoming ceremony.
— 4 p.m. (5 a.m.) Visit to national martyrs’ memorial in town of Savar.
— 4:45 p.m. (5:45 a.m.) Pay homage to the late-Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, known as “father of the nation,” at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum.
— 5:30 p.m. (6:30 a.m.) Courtesy visit to President Abdul Hamid at the presidential palace.
— 6 p.m. (7 a.m.) Meeting with government authorities, members of civil society and the diplomatic corps in the presidential palace. Speech by pope.
Friday, Dec. 1 (Dhaka)
— 10 a.m. (11 p.m. Nov. 30) Mass and ordination of priests in Suhrawardy Udyan park. Homily by pope.
— 3:20 p.m. (4:20 a.m.) Visit with the country’s prime minister at the apostolic nunciature.
— 4 p.m. (5 a.m.) Visit the city’s cathedral.
— 4:15 p.m. (5:15 a.m.) Meeting with Bangladesh’s bishops at a residence for elderly priests. Speech by pope.
— 5 p.m. (6 a.m.) Interreligious and ecumenical meeting for peace in the garden of the archbishop’s residence. Speech by pope.
Saturday, Dec. 2 (Dhaka, Rome)
— 10 a.m. (11 p.m. Dec. 1) Private visit to the Mother Teresa House in the capital’s Tejgaon neighborhood.
— 10:45 a.m. (11:45 p.m. Dec. 1) Meeting with priests, men and women religious, seminarians and novices at the Church of the Holy Rosary. Speech by pope.
— 11:45 a.m. (12:45 a.m.) Visit the parish cemetery and historic Church of the Holy Rosary.
— 3:20 p.m. (4:20 a.m.) Meeting with young people at Notre Dame College. Speech by pope.
— 4:45 p.m. (5:45 a.m.) Farewell ceremony at Dhaka International Airport.
— 5:05 p.m. (6:05 a.m.) Departure by plane for Rome.
— 11 p.m. (5 p.m.) Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport.