Recently some newspapers in the U.K. and Canada have commented about Pope Francis’ visit to Myanmar, where a combined civilian and military government has been accused of genocide towards a sizeable ethnic minority, the Rohingya people. The newspapers remarked that the pope made no comment about the Rohingya crisis while in Myanmar.
Rohingya history in Myanmar can be traced back to the eighth century. As I understand it, a 1982 Myanmar nationality law did “effectively deny to the Rohingya the possibility of acquiring citizenship.” While making no comment about the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, in his subsequent visit to Bangladesh, where he met Rohingya refugees, the Pope shared his concern about the indifference many had showed to Rohingya plight.
Speaking out against injustice, we often believe, is the right thing to do. The pope, whom we presume has some social intervener status, could have said something.
Myanmar has been under an authoritarian military government for many years until quite recently, where reasoned discussion, was limited if not impossible. It is more important, I believe, to be informed, observant and to understand the process by which change might occur and where collective and reasoned action is important. Change often does nor occur with a drop of a hat or with a knight in shining armour dashing into the fray. The pope should know. After all he did live under a brutal oppressive military regime in Argentina.