November 2017, BANGLADESH & MYANMAR, Pope Francis is expected to visit the bordering countries between Nov 23 and Dec 8 on a pastoral mission that takes in advocacy for climate protection and for Rohingya Muslims.
The pope, who has made waves as an environmental activist, recently created the first-ever cardinals for both countries. Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario in Bangladesh and Cardinal Charles Bo in Myanmar are climate protection advocates who quote from the pope’s environmental encyclical, "Laudato Si" in their homilies. Both countries suffer cyclones and floods that are expected to worsen with climate change. Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable because of its low elevation. Cardinal Bo’s s signature theme is the “green theology of liberation,” according to the National Catholic Reporter.
Since October 2016, nearly 69,000 Rohingya from Rakhine State in Myanmar have entered Bangladesh to escape attacks by Myanmar security forces, according to Human Rights Watch and other sources. The refugees join 300,000 to 500,000 Rohingya who fled earlier violence and are now crowding camps in Bangladesh. The pope is likely to take issue with Dhaka’s widely reported proposal to relocate refugees to uninhabited Thengar Char Island.
He recently rebuked Buddhist Myanmar for violence against the Rohingya. Myanmar's government and Nobel Peace Prize winner San Suu Kyi have denied ethnic cleansing allegations. Buddhist Myanmar, emerging from years of military rule, inaugurated diplomatic relations with the Holy See in May 2017.
Pope to visit Bangladesh in late November (Dhaka Tribune Jul 2017)
Bangladesh: Reject Rohingya Refugee Relocation Plan (HRW Feb 2017)
Pope Francis Rebukes Myanmar Over Treatment of Rohingya (NYT Feb 2017)
Myanmar's Cardinal Bo calls for 'green theology of liberation' (National Catholic Reporter Feb 2017)