Pope Francis has called on the people of Myanmar to exercise compassion to overcome ethnic problems in the country, where members of the Rohingya minority have been forced to flee their homes.
Francis delivered his message at a public Mass in a stadium in Yangon, the country’s largest city, on Wednesday. He arrived in Myanmar 2 days earlier.
Organizers say about 150,000 Christians from across the country attended the Mass. About 90 percent of the population is Buddhist.
The pontiff said he knows many people in Myanmar carry the wounds of violence, but he urged them to show forgiveness and compassion to others, for the sake of reconciliation and peace.
He did not refer to Rohingya issues directly in his speech. Members of the Muslim community in the western state of Rakhine are seeking refuge in neighboring Bangladesh. The Myanmar government has been accused of abusing their human rights.
The Pope apparently prioritized conveying a message of peace to avoid adding fuel to the country’s conflicts. Many in Myanmar hold negative views of the Muslim minority.
A man attending the Mass said that seeing the Pope moved him. He added that he prays for peace for the people of Myanmar and Rakhine.