For the global and local media, Pope Francis’s Bangladesh visit was all about Rohingya issue, though the visit had other significances that largely remained uncovered in the media.
Pope Francis’s three days visit to Bangladesh had significance beyond the Rohingya angle. For Vatican, it was significant in portraying its growing global ambit.
Vatican leadership, which has the religious authority over the global Catholic community, needs to show the audience of a 1.2 billion global Catholic population – who depends on the leadership (especially the Pope) for spirituality, morality and morale – that its influence is a growing phenomenon worldwide.
Indeed, the Vatican’s influence is growing. The response and reaction received to the Pope’s recent visit to the Middle East is a testimony to this end. The fact that the Bangladeshi and Myanmarese leaderships also had high hopes from Pope Francis visit only adds to the lists of testimonies supporting the growing influence of the Vatican leadership.
Furthermore, the open-air masses – led by Pope Francis – in both Bangladesh and Myanmar were attended spontaneously by the Catholic communities in these countries, reflecting Vatican leadership’s reach even to the Asian countries having a tiny Catholic population. In Bangladesh, Pope attended a giant open-air mass at Dhaka’s Suhrawardy Udyan Park of nearly 100,000 people, many of whom thought that the moments of watching Pope and hearing his speech first hand were the best moments of their lives.
Pope, who is also a political leader with the courtesy of being the head of the Vatican state, not only made the estimated 350,000 Catholics in Bangladesh happy with his visit, prayers and blessings, but also made all the efforts to reach with his words and presence to the government, politicians and followers of other religious belief in the country.
Pope’s visit to Bangladesh’s National Memorial at Savar –where he paid tribute to the memories of the 1971 martyrs of Bangladesh Liberation War – had surely pleased the whole nation.