Pope Francis likely to visit Bangladesh next year: Cardinal

Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church is expected to visit Bangladesh next year, new cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in Bangladesh Reverend Patrick Rozario today said as he made a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office here.

Briefing reporters after the meeting PM's press secretary Ihsanul Karim said the new cardinal expressed his loyalty to the Prime Minister and Bangladesh as the first cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.

"As the first cardinal of Bangladesh I have come to meet you to express my loyalty to the Prime Minister and the country on behalf of six lakh members of the (country's) Christian community," Karim quoted Rozario as telling the premier. Sheikh Hasina said she is "very, very happy" with the appointment of first cardinal in Bangladesh.

"It's a great pride for Bangladesh and it's recognition to your service," she told the cardinal.

The cardinal said during his recent visit to the Vatican City he conveyed the pope about the values of Bangladeshi people of nourishing communal harmony.

People of the holy city are not aware about many achievements of Bangladesh in socioeconomic areas, he said.

In this regard he pointed out the recent incidents in Bangladesh saying people of the holy city don't know about the steps taken by the government to clampdown the terrorists.

The Prime Minister said people of Bangladesh irrespective of their religion, creed and caste are living in peace and harmony for centuries in Bangladesh.

"In Bangladesh, religion is an affair of individuals while religious festivals are for all," she said.

PM's advisor on International Affairs Dr Gowher Rizvi, Principal Secretary Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury and Vatican ambassador in Dhaka George Kocherry were present.

Patrick Rozario is the first cardinal in Bangladesh among 120 under catholic order nominated by the Pope.

Cardinals form the Sacred College which elects succeeding popes.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)