The historical visit of Pope Francis to Myanmar (27-30 November 2017)
By Fr. Leo Mang, SDB
MYM Social Communication Delegate
Yangon, Myanmar, 1 December 2017 -- Pope Francis arrived on Monday in Yangon (27.11.2017), where he was greeted by Myanmar’s political and religious authorities, as well as by the crowds who lined the road to the Archbishop’s residence (Cardinal Charles Bo, SDB) where he had stayed for the three-day visit.
During his meeting with the 17 leaders of Myanmar’s religious communities the Pope insisted them that peace consists in unity in diversity, not in uniformity.
The Holy Father visited to the new capital of Nay Pyi Taw where he met the President of the Republic of Myanmar, Mr Htin Kyaw, and presented with a manuscript, depicting the life of Buddha, the primary figure of the Buddhist religion. The Pope also in the honorable guest record wrote that "Upon all the beloved people of Myanmar, I invoke the divine blessings of justice, peace and unity."
After that Pope Francis was welcomed and greeted by Her Excellency Daw Aung San Su Kyi, Myanmar's Foreign Minister and State Counsellor, at Myanmar's International Convention Center in Nay Pyi Taw, where he addressed to the authorities, civil society, and diplomatic corps. He encouraged the nation to continue along the “arduous process of peacebuilding and national reconciliation”.
On 29th November 2017 morning the Holy Father celebrated the Holy Mass with 200.000 faithful at a sports ground in central Yangon, Myanmar and praised the small flock in Myanmar for its tireless work among the poorest and most vulnerable people.
In the afternoon the Holy Father visited to the Supreme "Sangha" Council of Buddhist Monks at the Kaba Aye Center in Yangon. Pope Francis presented to the Bhaddanta Kumarabhivamsa, Chairman of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, with a sculpture of a "Dove of Peace" during their meeting in Yangon, Myanmar on Wednesday. The dove expresses God's merciful love for humanity, while the two ascending ribbons represent an allusion to the "re-emerging" of peaceful relations. In the evening the Holy Father met with the 22 Catholic Bishops of Myanmar includes 3 Archdioceses and 13 Dioceses. The Pope focussed his discourse to the Bishops on the concepts of healing, accompaniment and prophecy.
On the last day of his apostolic journey to Myanmar 30.11.2017, Pope Francis celebrated a morning Mass for young people, gathered at St Mary’s Catholic cathedral in central Yangon and this is his message “You must be messengers of hope in Myanmar, unafraid to believe in God’s mercy and show solidarity with your suffering sisters and brothers”.
For the very first historical visit of the Holy Father to Myanmar the Salesians of Don Bosco Myanmar had contributed from different parts especially the official spoke person of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar, the National Director of Social Communication of CBCM, for the Visit of the Holy Father is Rev. Fr. Mariano Soe Naing (SDB). Another Salesian Fr. Leo Mang the former Director of Catholic SC in Myanmar was also the secretary to Vatican Media group for the entire programs. The eldest Salesian confrere, Fr. Cyril Francis had a special privilege to kiss the Holy Father and received his blessing.
We hope and pray that this strong encouragement and inspiration of Pope Francis visit to our country will foster our faith, vocation and missionary slant.