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Pope Francis pledges support for Myanmar during meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 29th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Pope Francis met on Monday with Nobel Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi from Myanmar. The two discussed her campaign for democracy and the Church's role in that country.

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis met with Aung San Suu Kyi, the former political prisoner from Myanmar. Aung San Suu Kyi has been a long advocate for democracy in her country and has recently made gains in the struggle for freedom there.

Pope Francis especially congratulated her on making progress by non-violent means. He also pledged that the Church in Myanmar would be at the service of all people, without discrimination. He said he would pray for the country, especially for inter-religious dialogue between the people there.

Myanmar is home to a minority population of Catholics who chiefly live in the northeastern portion of the country. Recently, there have been clashes in that country between Buddhists and Muslims, which have claimed around 250 lives. Hundreds of thousands may be homeless following mass-sectarian violence.

In 2015, Myanmar will hold parliamentary elections and Aung San Suu Kyi has said she wants to run for the office of president. However, there remains great concern over the quality of the democratic process there. The parliament also elects the president, which removes a degree of power from the people themselves.

There is also a law which was designed to keep Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president. That law says no person may be elected to the presidency if they are married or their children have foreign citizenship. Aung San Suu Kyi's two sons have British citizenship since their father was from Britain. He died in 1999.

Aung San Suu Kyi spend 15 of the last 22 years under house arrest in her country as punishment for speaking out for freedom. After a long campaign of peaceful activism, the people of Myanmar are finally experiencing some success. However, sectarian violence threatens the fledgling democracy there.

Pope Francis has promised to pray and do all he can to support freedom in that country.

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