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Pope expected to visit Myanmar in late November


  • People pray inside St. Mary's Cathedral in 2011 in Yangon, Myanmar. Church sources say they expect Pope Francis to visit in late November. (CNS photo/EPA)
  • People gather inside St. Mary's Cathedral in 2011 in Yangon, Myanmar. Church sources say they expect Pope Francis to visit in late November. (CNS photo/EPA)

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YANGON, Myanmar (CNS) -- Pope Francis is expected to focus on trying to improve the troubles of about a million ethnic Muslim Rohingya when he visits Myanmar the last week of November, reported ucanews.com.

The Vatican has acknowledged a possible trip is being studied, but it has said it is too early to confirm the trip. Ucanews.com reported the visit is expected to announced officially in September.

The news has already drawn the ire of hard-line Buddhist groups in Myanmar who have fanned sectarian violence and protest, especially against the Rohingya and other Muslims, over the past five years, ucanews.com reported.

Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam of Banmaw said a visit by Pope Francis to Myanmar is most likely, although he said he had not officially been informed.

"The Catholic bishops invited Pope Francis before the 500th anniversary of Catholicism in Myanmar in late 2014," Bishop Gam told ucanews.com. "Some improvements have occurred such as diplomatic relations between Myanmar and Vatican, plus the appointment of an apostolic nuncio."

President Htin Kyaw also invited the pope. Observers believe that the unexpected move by Myanmar's civilian-led government was driven by its desire to skirt the powerful military, with which it effectively shares power. Under Myanmar's 2008 constitution, the military retains the crucial defense, border and home affairs portfolios as well as 25 percent of both houses of parliament.

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