rome - With his arrival in Myanmar on Monday, the first visit of a Catholic church leader to the Southeast Asian country begins for Pope Francis. The highlight is a meeting between the Argentinian and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and de facto Head of Government of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi.
In the crisis about the Muslim minority of the Rohingya, who overshadows the pope's journey, she has been internationally criticized. On Thursday, the Pope will travel to Bangladesh for an interreligious meeting, in which Rohingya will also participate.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have already fled to Myanmar from Myanmar. The Pope will not visit refugee camps according to the official program. Only Pope John Paul II has been in Bangladesh so far.
Both in Buddhist Myanmar and in Bangladesh, inhabited by Muslims, there is only a small Catholic minority. The Vatican had previously announced that Francis wanted to send a message of 'reconciliation, peace and forgiveness'.