Dhaka, December 01: Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, celebrated the ‘Holy Mass’, a prayer service, at the Suhrawardy Udyan in the city on Friday, the second day of his visit to Bangladesh, reports UNB.
An estimated 80,000 Catholics from different parts of the country attended the mass prayer seeking harmony and peace in the world.
Pointing at the priests ordained in the programme, Pope Francis said they are raised to the Order of the Priesthood.
“For your part, you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the word of God which you have received with joy. Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practice what you teach.”
“Dear sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit,” he continued.
On Friday afternoon, Pope Francis held a meeting with Bishops at the residence of the Archbishop of Dhaka.
He also hosted an interfaith peace prayer alongside Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other Christian leaders at the Archbishop of Dhaka’s residence where 18 displaced Rohingyas from camps in Cox’s Bazar were on hand at the event to greet the pope.
He talked to every refugee and consoled them.
Speaking at the programme, the Pope said an important part of his pastoral visit to Bangladesh is the interreligious and ecumenical encounter that will take place immediately following their meeting.
“The Church’s commitment to pursuing interreligious understanding through seminars and educational programmes, as well as through personal contacts and invitations, contributes to the spread of good will and harmony,” he said.
“Work unremittingly to build bridges and to foster dialogue, for these efforts not only facilitate communication between different religious groups, but also awaken the spiritual energies needed for the work of nation-building in unity, justice and peace,” he added.
Pope Francis said when religious leaders speak out with one voice against the violence that parades as religion and seek to replace the culture of conflict with the culture of encounter, they draw from the deepest spiritual roots of their various traditions.
Francis on Thursday called for ‘decisive’ international action for resolving the Rohingya refugee crisis, where more than 620,000 Rohingyas took shelter in Bangladesh, fleeing persecution in Rakhine state of Myanmar.
The pope, during his visit to Myanmar, refrained from publicly identifying the Muslim people of Rakhine state as Rohingyas out of diplomatic deference to his hosts. But he referred only to “refugees from Rakhine state.”
On Saturday, the Pope will have a private visit to Tejgaon Mother Theresa House and meet priests, religious and consecrated men and women in the Holy Rosary Church.
He will also visit the Parish Cemetery and the ancient Holy Rosary Church and meet the youth in Notre Dame College.
Pope Francis will leave for Rome at 5:05 pm on Saturday after an official farewell at Dhaka airport.
A planned meeting with a small group of Rohingyas is expected to be a high point during the Pope’s Dhaka visit.
However, there is no mention of such meeting in the draft programme schedule of the Pope.