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In Bangladesh Visit, Pope Francis Again Does Not Mention Rohingya

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Pope Francis visited Bangladesh today. And in a meeting with dignitaries, he called for them to care for the plight of refugees.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

POPE FRANCIS: (Speaking Italian).

GREENE: The pope's speaking Italian there, and he mentioned Rakhine state. That is an area of Myanmar where many Rohingya Muslims are from. But it is important to note the pope did not mention the name Rohingya. This was the decision he made today in Bangladesh and also the decision he made in Myanmar. And that has garnered a lot of criticism for those who view the plight of the Rohingya a massive abuse of human rights. I want to turn now to NPR's Sylvia Poggioli, who is traveling with the pope. She's on the line from Bangladesh.

Hi, Sylvia.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: Hi, David.

GREENE: Was this omission a big deal?

POGGIOLI: Well, I think it simply follows what he was saying in Myanmar. There, he was heeding the advice of the local Catholic church. You know, he was there this morning. This is just a few hours after he left Myanmar. So clearly, he still is following the church's advice to not use the name, which is a very polarizing name in Myanmar society. The great majority - the Buddhist majority consider the Rohingyas illegal migrants who come from Bangladesh, although they have been living for generations and generations in Myanmar.

GREENE: NPR's Sylvia Poggioli, who's traveling with the pope, talking to us about the plight of the Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.

Sylvia, thanks.

POGGIOLI: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's International Desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe, and the Balkans. Poggioli's on-air reporting and analysis have encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and how immigration has transformed European societies.
David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.