High Expectations for the Pope’s Visit to Asia

Source: FSSPX News

The pope is visiting Myanmar and Bangladesh from November 26 to December 2, 2017. In both of these countries the Church is a small minority compared with Buddhism and Islam, and Catholics are considered second-class citizens.


In Myanmar, Catholics represent a little less than 2% of the population, which is mostly Buddhist. 154 seminarians are currently studying at the seminary in Yangon, the capital. Often considered second-class citizens, most Burmese Catholics are descendants either of Tamil immigrants or of the Karen ethnic minority. Many faithful do not have the pink identity card that allows citizens to benefit from all the rights associated with the nationality, particularly access to universities.

The pope’s visit to Myanmar is, according to Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon, an opportunity to turn the spotlight to this country where “devotion is very strong,” he explained, adding: “We would now like our faithful to become apostles and evangelizers to build peace.”

In neighboring Bangladesh, the Catholic community is also a small flock: 380,000 faithful, 340 local priests, in 8 dioceses, in a total population of 150 million.

The Church here is particularly committed to two forms of apostolate. She places herself at the service of the poor, and sends about 20 Bangladeshi priests to foreign missions. The pope’s visit is eagerly awaited by Catholics who fear the growing power of the Muslim and Buddhist groups hostile to Christianity.