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Pope Francis urges Myanmar youth to defend human rights 

Yangon, Nov 30 (IANS) Pope Francis on Thursday urged the youth in Myanmar to defend human rights and justice.

At a mass at the St. Mary’s Cathedral here, with which the Pope concluded his state visit to Myanmar, the pontiff wondered how to spread the message of positivity amid so much suffering and conflicts, reports Efe news.

“Where is the good news when there is so much injustice, poverty and misery that cast its shadow about us and our world,” he asked.

The Pope also asked the young people present at the mass to reach out to those who were suffering and to fight for human rights, justice, love and peace.

“As a good father, although it would be better to say a grandfather, I want to give you some ideas,” he joked.

He asked the youth to cultivate an inner life and not to be afraid of asking questions that would lead to new thoughts and ideas.

“I ask you to shout, but not with your voices, no, I want you to shout, to be with your life, with your hearts, signs of hope for those who are discouraged, a hand outstretched for the sick, a welcoming smile for the stranger, a solicitous support for the one who is alone.

“Be brave, be generous, and, above all, be happy!” concluded Pope Francis, whose speech in Italian was being simultaneously translated into the local language on screens placed outside the church.

“He has come to do good not only to Christians but to all Burmese,” said Elisabeth La Npai Nang Doi, who travelled from an internal refugee camp in Kachin state.

“It’s a unique opportunity to see and listen to the Pope, it’s the first time that a Pope has come to visit us,” said Lucas Han Lohayai, a resident of Yangon.

The Pope in all his sermons in Myanmar avoided the term Rohingya, the Muslim community of whom 620,000 people have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after a military crackdown in late August. 

He had been warned by his Catholic representatives in the country not to use the term for fear of alienating the Buddhist majority and causing difficulties for the nation’s 600,000 Catholics.

After Myanmar, he will travel to Bangladesh to meet Rohingya refugees in a symbolic gesture.

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