Pray that the Rohingya – our Muslim brothers and sisters from the Rakhine region, whose rights and very identity are not recognized by the Myanmar government – may find the respect that recognizes the dignity of all human beings.
Since 2017, over 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar as their villages were burned, women raped, and men killed in what a United Nations official has termed “genocide.” Many refugees are crowded into camps in Bangladesh, while others have boarded flimsy boats going to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, where their fate is uncertain. They are being pressured to return but what guarantees are there that they will be treated with dignity and as equal members of society by a government that has declared them to be “stateless”? The Catholic Church in Myanmar has worked actively to mediate between the Buddhist majority and the Rohingya. Pope Francis visited Myanmar and Bangladesh in late 2017. At an interreligious and ecumenical meeting in Dhaka, he said, “We all are images of God, including the Rohingya,” and he went on to say, “your tragedy is very difficult, but it has a place in our hearts.”
Reach out to Muslim neighbors and members in your community to express solidarity with their efforts to build a culture that recognizes and respects the rights of all people. Support Catholic Relief Services and other Catholic organizations that seek to build bridges of understanding between different faith communities and to counter intolerance and extremism.