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100,000 Bangladesh Catholics to Attend Mass Led by Pope Francis

Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 17:15 (IST)

Around 100,000 Catholics in Bangladesh will be attending the open-air mass led by Pope Francis on Dec. 1. Several cardinals and bishops from India will be adding to the huge number.

Francis will also meet Rohingya refugees in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, the country that is witnessing a rise in Islamist extremism and a massive influx of refugees from neighboring Myanmar.

Shortly after his arrival from Myanmar on Nov. 30, he walked a diplomatic tightrope and praised overpopulated and poor Bangladesh for opening doors to the Rohingya refugees who have flooded in since a military crackdown or 'ethnic cleaning' in their native Rakhine state in August, and urged the world to help.

"This has been done at no little sacrifice. It has also been done before the eyes of the whole world," he said, calling on other countries to offer "immediate material assistance to Bangladesh in its effort to respond effectively to urgent human needs".

Since the central government of India remained silent despite repeated pleas from the Catholic Church to invite the pope to the country during his tour to South Asia, three Indian cardinals and several bishops, particularly from India's West Bengal state adjoining Bangladesh, will join Francis in Dhaka to offer mass.

While the Hindu-majority country refrained to invite the pope, the largely Muslim nation of Bangladesh has shown delight in welcoming him for his Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 visit.

Francis is the first pope to visit the Muslim-majority country in more than thirty years.