Francis waited until he arrived in neighbouring Bangladesh to demand the global community intervene to resolve the crisis and help Bangladesh cope with the influx of more than 620,000 refugees fleeing a military crackdown in Rakhine state.
"If I had used the word ['Rohingya'] during an official speech, I would have slammed the door", he said. Thus, when he avoided calling the Rohingya by name on his visit to Myanmar, human rights groups accused him of finally selling out to the opportunist diplomacy of the Vatican.
"I didn't negotiate the truth", Francis said. "But [in public] I described situations, rights, said that no one should be excluded, [the right to] citizenship, in order to allow myself to go further in the private meetings", he said.
The leader of the world's Roman Catholics spoke from his heart to the crowd at Dhaka's Holy Rosary Church.
The pope was criticized for not using the word Rohingya while he was in Myanmar.
He referred to them as "Rohingya", a term unacceptable to many in Myanmar where they are reviled as "Bengali" illegal immigrants rather than as a distinct ethnic group.
Speaking to reporters en route home from Myanmar and Bangladesh, Francis said he was "very, very satisfied" that his message had been received in his private meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar's powerful military chief, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.
The meeting was initially scheduled for Thursday before the papal departure to Bangladesh.
The latest exodus from Burma to Bangladesh of about 625,000 people followed a Burmese military crackdown in response to Rohingya militant attacks on an army base and police posts on 25 August.
Residents have said scores of Rohingya villages were burnt to the ground, people were killed and women were raped.
A deadly attack by Rohingya militants on police posts in late August sparked a ferocious crackdown in Rakhine State by the Myanmar military, which the USA and United Nations describe as "ethnic cleansing".
Human rights groups have criticised Burma's de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize victor who was under house arrest for a total of 15 years, for not taking a stand against the generals.
Francis said he was well aware of the criticism levelled at Suu Kyi for having failed to speak out enough, or soon enough about the atrocities being committed against the Rohingya. "Myanmar has to be able to look forward to the building of the country".
Francis addressed the Rohingya issue head-on in Bangladesh, telling those refugees he met: "In the name of all those who have persecuted you, who have harmed you, in the face of the world's indifference, I ask for your forgiveness". "The presence of God today also is called 'Rohingya, '" he told them.
"I was crying and tried to hide it", Francis said on the plane, recounting how moved he felt when the refugees recounted their ordeals to him.