Pope Francis today led a huge openair mass and ordained 16 Bangladeshi priests on the second day of his historic visit to the Muslim-majority country. The 80-year-old pontiff led the service at Dhaka's main Suhrawardy Udyan park in the presence of over 80,000 Catholic Christians, who make 0.02 per cent of the country's 160 million population. Pope thanked those who came out for the mass, noting that some people had travelled two days to attend. "Thank you for your generosity... this indicates the love that you have for the church," the pope said. The ceremony, also attended by foreign diplomats and government leaders, mirrored the ordination mass at the same park which Pope John Paul II celebrated during his Bangladesh visit in 1986. In the same park, Bangladesh's founder Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered a speech laying the groundwork for the country's independence in a decisive moment for the country on March 7, 1971. The pope is also expected to host an interfaith peace prayer alongside Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other Christian leaders at the archbishop's residence later today. He is also expected to meet a group of Rohingyas at another church and meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Vatican embassy. About 620,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar's Rakhine State to Bangladesh since August to avoid military crackdown at their home.
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