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Myanmar: Pope Meets Head of the Burmese Army

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Myanmar: Pope Meets Head of the Burmese Army

A few hours after his arrival in Myanmar (Burma) on November 27, 2017, Pope Francis received a “€œcourtesy visit”€ from the head of the Burmese Army, General Min Aung Hlaing at the Archbishopric of Yangon.

The private meeting, which was added to the program and, initially, should have taken place on November 30, was brought forward to the Pope”€™s first day of the visit. It lasted about a quarter of an hour, from 5:55 pm local time (12:25 pm in Rome) to 6:10 pm.

According to Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office, the discussions were the occasion to stress “€œthe great responsibility of the country”€™s Authorities in this moment of transition.”€ In fact, the Burmese Army holds part of the power.

The visit ended with the traditional exchange of gifts: the Pope gave the General a medal of the Apostolic Journey, while the General gave the Pontiff a harp in the form of boat and a decorated rice bowl.

General Min Aung Hlaing was accompanied by a delegation of four high-ranking military men: three heads of the Bureau of Special Operations “€“ Lieutenant General Tun Tun Naung; Lieutenant General Than Tun Oo and Lieutenant General Soe Htut, as well as Lieutenant Colonel Aung Zaw Lin.

The exchanges took place in the presence of a translator of the Church of Myanmar, who will accompany the Pope during the whole of the first stage of his 21st Apostolic Journey, which will continue in Bangladesh.

It was Cardinal Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, who suggested this interview when he met with Pope Francis last November 18. The end is “€œnot to promote what [the General] has done, but to have a dialogue with him”€¦Perhaps it can soften his heart and this might be, perhaps, the first step towards peace,”€ he explained.


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