Pope Francis referred to the Rohingya people by name on Friday, the first time he has directly addressed Myanmar’s persecuted Muslim minority in his tour of south Asia.
“The presence of God today is called Rohingya,” the Pope said after speaking to an interfaith audience in Bangladesh.
He did not use the term in public earlier in the week in Myanmar, to the dismay of campaigners for the Rohingya, whose stories of escaping violence in the country have provoked international condemnation.
In Bangladesh, the Pope met a group of Rohingya refugees one-by-one, giving some of them blessings and listening to the stories of others.
More than 620,000 Rohingya have fled across the border from Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh since a spate of violence began in August.
Rohingya activists and allies had called on the Pope to refer to the Rohingya by name — a term the government in Myanmar refuses to recognize — while he was visiting neighboring Myanmar earlier this week.