An interview with Cardinal Charles Bo, SDB - Archbishop of Yangon
From Fides Agency
Yangon Myanmar, 19 October 2017 -- An interview with Cardinal Charles Bo, SDB - Archbishop of Yangon (Myanmar) in an interview with Fides, talking about the situation in the country in the proximity of the Pope's trip to the country from 27 to 30 November. The next Asian trip of Pope Francis includes two countries – majority Buddhist Myanmar and majority Muslim Bangladesh.
Where is Myanmar, after the big changes in recent years?
Myanmar is at a crossroads of history. Our pilgrimage towards democracy has ensured that everyone has more rights and freedom. We are proud to be citizens of this great nation, Myanmar. We are proud to be an abundantly blessed nation with so many resources. This is a golden land. Our dream is to make it "golden" for everyone, through peace. Peace is the first, great good. Children and young people will benefit from the fruits of peace. A new Myanmar of peace and prosperity is possible. We are a nation of seven major ethnic groups and 135 minor ones. Each one of us decorates our nation like the colorful flowers of a large garden. The people of Myanmar now have to think about building peace, the state and the nation.
What can you say about the Rohingya Muslim crisis, at the forefront of international news?
Tragic events have involved the population in the state of Rakhine, bringing the country at the forefront of international news. Everyone in the world wants to give Myanmar some advice. At the moment we must remain united and we must tell the world that we have the courage and the moral energy to solve our problems. We have to tell the world that a new Myanmar, imbued with generosity and hope, is emerging. We have looked for non-violent solutions in our struggle for democracy and we are a nation which recognizes itself in the great teachings of Buddha, who teaches compassion to all. Aung San Suu Kyi continues to be the hope of millions of people eager for human development, justice and reconciliation. She sacrificed so much for this nation and for democracy. The people of Myanmar elected her and trust her. The world should offer her understanding and support.
Do you think the country is going in the right direction for peace and development?
This is a young nation, with 40% of the population under 30. We are demonstrating the world that, by giving them an opportunity, our children can combine intelligence and competence. Therefore I would say that the future is ours. All the rich countries in the world do not have a young population like ours. Within ten years, we will be a strong nation, despite the ongoing problems and sufferings. There is a new dawn of hope. We are on the move and we are a nation proud to be part of the international community.
What are the main challenges for the country?
Among the challenges to be faced, I think of the millions of young Burmese who are out of the country under slavery and who are victims of traffickers. A problem that derives from poverty: there will be no peace if there is no economic justice. Over 40% of our people are poor. There is also need for "environmental justice", necessary for peace. Most conflicts with ethnic minorities are motivated by the sharing of natural resources. [Note of the Editor: Mynamar Union comprises 137 different ethnic groups,with more than 70 ongoing armed conflicts within the country, some of them started since 1947]
What is the role of religion in society?
It is to promote and pray for justice, for peace, for human dignity, a task that unites all religions. No religion speaks of hatred. Those who propagate hatred in the name of religion are the true enemies of that religion. We have great desire for peace, and we must be agents of peace. Our nation suffers from deep wounds of divisions and hatred. Forgiveness is the path that lead to healing. We are called to bring light of joy to those who live in the darkness of fear, hatred, and sadness. We will welcome Pope Francis with this spirit.