By Vatican News staff writer
Celebrating two historical births, Pope Francis sent a video message on Wednesday to the people of Bangladesh. The first celebration is for the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the second is for the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Bangladesh.
Opening his message, Pope Francis welcomed the occasions as an opportunity to offer his "heartfelt greetings and best wishes" to Bangladesh's President, Prime Minster and to "all the beloved people of Bangladesh".
"I join all of you in thanking God for the many blessings bestowed upon Bangladesh over these years," he said.
The Sheikh's legcay
Pope Francis went on to note that "Bangladesh – 'Golden Bengal' (Sonar Bangla) – is a country of unique natural beauty and a modern nation that strives to join unity of language and culture with respect for the different traditions and communities within it." This, he continued, is one of the legacies which Sheikh Mujibur Rahman left for all Bangladeshis.
The Pope explained that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman promoted a culture of dialogue, "marked by wisdom, insight and breadth of vision", adding that "he knew that it is only in such a pluralistic and inclusive society, in which every person could live in freedom, peace and security, that a more just and fraternal world can be built."
Experiencing Bangladesh first-hand
The Pope then went on to recall his Apostolic Visit to Bangladesh in August 2017. He noted that, as he followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, he "had a first-hand experience of this cultural heritage and legacy."
Bangladesh, he said, "has always had a special place in the heart of the Popes, who from the start have expressed solidarity with its people, sought to accompany them in overcoming initial adversities, and supported them in the demanding task of nation building and development."
The Pope then expressed his hope that "the good relations between the Holy See and Bangladesh will continue to flourish." At the same time, he continued, "I trust that the growing climate of interreligious encounter and dialogue, which I witnessed during my visit, will continue to enable believers to express freely their deepest convictions about the meaning and purpose of life, and thus contribute to promoting the spiritual values that are the sure basis for a peaceful and just society."
The Pope: a friend of Bangladesh
Bringing his video message to a close, the Pope renewed his "firm conviction that the future of the democracy and health of the political life of Bangladesh are essentially linked to its founding vision and to the legacy of sincere dialogue and respect for legitimate diversity", which the people of Bangladesh have sought to achieve over these years.
"As a friend of Bangladesh", he concluded, "I encourage each of you, particularly the younger generations, to devote yourselves anew to working for peace and prosperity for the noble nation that you represent. And I ask all of you to continue in your work of generosity and humanitarian outreach to the refugees, the poor, the underprivileged and those who have no voice".