ASIA/BANGLADESH - Archbishop Costa: "Pope Francis brings the peripheries to the center of the world"

Thursday, 30 November 2017 pope francis   peace   violence   terrorism   bishops   local churches   christianity   islam   evangelization   mission  

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Dhaka (Agenzia Fides) - "With his visit to Dhaka, Pope Francis continues his mission of bringing the peripheries back to the center of the world". It is with these words that the Archbishop of Chittagong, Moses M. Costa, comments Pope Bergoglio’s visit in Bangladesh to Agenzia Fides. "We have been preparing ourselves, especially spiritually, for two months. For us it is a blessing, an encouragement, and a recognition of the work done so far", continues the Archbishop from his office in Chittagong, a port city of five million people in Bangladesh. In the country, with an Islamic majority, Catholics are a minority: according to government estimates, 384,000 out of a total population of 170 million.
Similar percentages are also registered in the district of Chittagong, that covers five thousand square kilometers: "We have 35 priests, about 50 nuns, about fifteen brothers, for a very large population. We are a small, but very active community.
Especially in the field of education, with the different schools we handle, whose value is recognized by everyone, but also in the development sector and aid towards the most needy, through the projects carried out by Caritas. It is a decentralized community spread across the territory that can reach the last, including the indigenous peoples living on the hills, often without recognition from the government". Pope Bergoglio’s visit, says Archbishop Moses M. Costa, is "a way to make our presence better known to the country and to the rest of the world", which must be carefully safeguarded. "Islamic fundamentalism has grown in recent years. We are not concerned, but we closely follow the course of events". In order not to lose the tradition of interreligious coexistence that distinguishes Bangladesh: "Here the different faiths lived peacefully in the past. We do not want to lose this legacy. The Holy Father’s visit will strengthen the spirit of tolerance and reconciliation, peace and harmony". A harmony that, according to Archbishop Costa, also concerns social issues: "Harmony must be found not only among religions, but also among social classes, among the rich and the poor, among the privileged and the disadvantaged. Social justice is the central theme of the contemporary world, in the peripheries as in the presumed center of the world. This is what the Holy Father reminds us continually. And, especially here in Bangladesh, we consider his words as prophetic". Archbishop Moses M. Costa declares to Agenzia Fides: "Pope Francis will find the right words at the right time" also to address the delicate issue of Rohingya, the Muslim minority forced to flee from the persecution suffered in Myanmar. "The Church needs less diplomacy, and more faith". (GB) (Agenzia Fides, 30/11/2017)

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