YANGON, Myanmar — Pope Francis landed in Myanmar, and in a diplomatic minefield, on Monday.
In a first papal visit to the country, the pope met with Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the commander in chief of Myanmar’s military, which has driven more than 620,000 Rohingya Muslims out of the country in what the United States has called a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
The pope is scheduled to meet on Tuesday with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and de facto leader of the government, who has been widely criticized as complicit for her silence in the face of the slaughter.
In Myanmar, the pope will seek to strike a careful balance by maintaining his moral authority without endangering his tiny local flock.
The United Nations, the United States and others have denounced the murder, rape and pillaging of the Rohingya in western Myanmar as ethnic cleansing, but the pope has been advised by the Roman Catholic Church here not to utter the word Rohingya, for fear of aggravating the situation or of being exploited for domestic politics.