Pope Francis held 15 minutes of talks yesterday with Burma’s military chief at the start of a visit to a majority-Buddhist country.
The pontiff will also visit Bangladesh, where more than 620,000 Rohingya have fled to escape what Amnesty International has dubbed “crimes against humanity”.
A Vatican spokesman reported that “they discussed the great responsibility of authorities of the country in this time of transition” which seems like diplomat-speak for the probability that the Pope raised the genocide of the Rohingya with the general.
There are only 700,000 Catholics in Burma’s population of 51m so the Rohingya can only hope his influence is disproportionate.
The Pope is expected to visit Ireland next autumn and there are many subjects he might address — homelessness, climate change, white-collar crime or even our bad-neighbour status as a tax haven.
That his predecessors and their local Church were so slow to address these moral matters is one of the reasons he may not be as influential in Ireland or in Burma as many would like.
Silence is indeed golden but it is also costly.
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