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Despite warning, Myanmar cardinal will say 'Rohingya' in front of Pope

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo poses with relatives during a courtesy visit to newly created cardinals on February 14, 2015 at the Vatican. AFP / TIZIANA FABI

October 2, 2015

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo gets more and more ballsy by the second.

Not only does he bust out lines like this with regularity, but he turns words into actions - like ignoring pressure from government officials who have tried to reign him in.

Yesterday, the cardinal flew to Rome for the month of the Holy Rosary in Vatican City, where he is likely to encounter Pope Francis.

Ahead of the trip, the authorities sent officials to ask him not to use the term ‘Rohingya’ to describe the persecuted Muslim minority in Rakhine state.

“They requested me not to use the term Rohingya in front of Pope Francis,” he told Mizzima News.

The government favors the pejorative ‘Bengali’, which implies the group – who have lived in Myanmar for generations – are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Cardinal Bo’s not down with that.

He said he would refuse to use Bengali and will use Rohingya to “to indicate [the issue]” but would talk about the people 'Muslims from Rahkine state' because of the sensitivity over the term.

“So, the situation there is very crucial, I think we have to solve this problem before it becomes too prolonged, before there is more violence and also the worry of international terrorism and other things.”

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