Archbishop Charles Bo of Yangon became Myanmar’s first cardinal on Feb. 14 when he received the cardinal’s red hat and ring from Pope Francis at the consistory in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Along with him, the Pope also raised 19 others to the rank of cardinal. While reflecting the far-flung diversity of the Catholic Church, these new cardinals from 18 countries also represent unity in living out some of Pope Francis' core concerns.
And Cardinal Charles Bo will bring in his experience and the pastoral concerns of the Church of Myanmar to the heart of the Catholic Church. The Church of Myanmar that recently celebrated its 5th centenary, has, like the rest of the people, gone through decades of brutal rule under a ruthless military junta. But today the nation is opening up under a controlled democracy.
Bo says his aim as Cardinal is to work toward peace and reconciliation between the country’s divergent religious groups, particularly majority Buddhists and minority Muslims.
Expressing concern for the religious-based violence in Myanmar, especially against the Rohingya Muslim minority, Bo speaks of the problems in his nation which is grappling with a rise of nationalistic Buddhism and increasing intolerance toward religious minorities.
After decades of military rule, he says that perhaps the people do not have the maturity to live in peace in democracy.
Bo explains that Myanmar’s Catholic community is small, numbering around 800,000 in a country of 51 million, most of whom are Buddhists. But the church has been active in the nation for over five centuries.
He expresses his hope that his new appointment will give him more credibility before the government, people and international community in his push for reconciliation. (From Vatican Radio)
Listen the Card. Bo's message (Vatican Radio)