Pope recalls plight of Rohingya, appeals for peace as wars rage

Pope Francis launches a special appeal for global attention to the suffering of Rohingya refugees, and exhorts everyone to pray for peace amid ongoing wars in Ukraine, the Holy Land, and elsewhere.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

“Let us not forget the wars. Let us not forget martyred Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, the Rohingya, and the many, many wars that are everywhere. Let us pray for peace.”

With these words, Pope Francis made his latest appeal during the weekly General Audience in the Vatican as part of his closing remarks to Italian pilgrims.

“War,” he underscored, “is always a defeat, always. Let us pray for peace. We need peace.”

“Let us pray for peace. We need peace.”

Renewed appeals for Rohingya, Myanmar

Pope Francis, who visited both Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2017, has raised his voice repeatedly against the suffering of Rohingya refugees.

The Rohingya, who have been denied citizenship in Myanmar since 1982, making them stateless, have been described as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, and over the course of many decades have fled to neighbouring countries either by land or boat.

The military coup in Myanmar on 2 February 2021 further heightened their vulnerability.

Focusing on Myanmar recently at Angelus on January 28, Pope Francis appealed for the facilitation of humanitarian aid, urging everyone to pursue paths of dialogue.

“For three years now,” he said, “the cry of pain and the din of weapons have taken the place of the smile that characterises the people of Myanmar.”

He joined his voice with that of Burmese Bishops to pray that “the weapons of destruction may be transformed into instruments to grow in humanity and justice.”

While the Pope acknowledged that peace is a journey, he invited all parties involved “to take steps of dialogue and to clothe themselves with understanding” so that “the land of Myanmar may reach the goal of fraternal reconciliation.”

“Let humanitarian aid be allowed to pass through to ensure the necessities of every person,” he said.

Fighting in Myanmar against the military government that seized power three years ago has grown to the point that most say the country is now in a civil war.