Chagossians visit the Vatican to meet Pope Francis
On 17 May a group of Chagossians, led by Chagos Refugees Group leader Oliver Bancoult, met with the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis. A strong Roman Catholic culture has been a distinct feature of unique Chagossian society, so marks an important step in their fight for justice.
Speaking prior to the visit, Mr Bancoult was clear he hopes to convince The Pope to back the Chagossian people's fight for justice. He notes the interest the Pope has taken in refugees, commenting that the Chagossian community have been "living in injustice for 50 years." At around 10AM on Tuesday 16th May, Mr Bancoult and a group of Chagossians had an audience was Pope Franics.
Mauritian clergymen Father Gérard Mongelard and the Reverend Mario Li Hing accompanied the Chagos Refugees Group (CRG) to the meeting. After the meeting, Mr Bancoult described the meeting as “very positive.” Father Mongelard added that Archbishop Gallagher, the Secretary of State of the Holy See, would do “everything he can to advance the cause.”
The leader of Chagos Refugees Group also stated that he hoped the meeting would raise the international profile of the cause. Reporting the meeting, Mauritian media have noted the Vatican's status as an Observer Nation at the UN, suggesting that the Pope could also use his influence in that arena.
Reports have suggested that Archbishop Gallagher has agreed to raise the matter with US President Trump.