Mgr Charles Bo, archbishop of Yangon, made an appeal for "unity" in a message to the faithful he released during a weekend service at St Mary Cathedral marking the start of the 'Week of prayer for Christian Unity'.
In his plea,
which does not apply only to Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox, he addressed all
the religions and groups that make up the divided nation.
In the country, divisions
run deep, especially between the Buddhist majority and the Muslim minority, above
all in the western state of Rakhine.
In one of the latest
episodes of violence, a
Muslim village came under attack, whilst a group of monks continues its
campaign to have parliament restrict
In his message,
the prelate referred to Jesus' baptism in the Jordan, noting that the country
is going through a phase of renewal, characterised by "opportunities and
challenges" that must be met and used.
Francis' exhortation Evangelii Gaudium,
calls on the faithful to "look at the world through the eyes of the poor
In one sentence,
he said, the Pontiff was able to focus on the "central message" of
Christ's incarnation, namely "That we all need to be reborn in the
suffering of others, [...] the oppressed and marginalised."
Mgr Bo also
mentioned the difficulties experienced by Burmese Christians, as they saw their
property and institutions seized and their right to worship placed under "severe
suffered," he said in a message to AsiaNews,
"but we survived."
In spite of
their "theological and liturgical differences," Christians can find unity again
in the task of caring for the sick and the poor, said Mgr Bo,
finding the face of Christ in five different groups who need help and support.
For him, the first
group includes those who left their homes, going to Malaysia, Thailand, and India,
fleeing persecution, forced to live in shelters; or displaced within the country
(more than three million), homeless and without help.
The victims of
human trafficking and modern-day slavery come next, including sex slaves "whose
silent cry" calls for "pastoral care and a return home."
Drug addicts and
the victims of land grabs by the land mafia are the next groups. As Mgr Bo
noted, many people - especially Christians and ethnic minorities - have lost
their property and huge tracts of land.
prelate wants the return of Church land and schools to give a new impetus
"to the great work done by [Catholics] in the fields of education and
health" in Myanmar as well as other countries.