By Robin Gomes
Cardinal Charles Bo of Myanmar’s is calling on his countrymen to be ambassadors of peace and reconciliation and is urging the international community to understand and accompany the struggle of the fledgeling democracy, instead of condemning it.
“Let the sun of peace and reconciliation rise in our land!” Myanmar’s prominent Catholic Church leader urges in a Christmas message for 2019, adding, “I pray that each and every one of my Myanmar brothers and sisters become the ambassadors of peace and reconciliation.”
Myanmar at crossroads
The Archbishop of Yangon says that like the Jews at the time of Christ, Myanmar today stands at the crossroads of history with many challenges such as chronic wars, huge displacement of people, unsafe migration of young people, climate change and need for reconciliation among its various peoples.
At the same time, the cardinal, who is also the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, says that the south-east nation has been blessed by God with people from every tribe, abundant natural resources and spiritual wealth.
“Despite all these great blessings,” the 71-year-old cardinal laments that “Myanmar is today known in the world for the wrong reasons.” The nation has been dragged to the international court and “big words are used against this country, he says.
The cardinal’s Christmas comes after Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, earlier in December lead a delegation defended her country against charges of genocide against the Rohingya Muslims at the International Court of Justice at the Hague in the Netherlands.
Understand the nation's struggle
Cardinal Bo is calling for conversion and repentance - “conversion from hatred, repentance from all kinds of sins committed against God or fellow human beings”.
Myanmar, he says, needs to understand the world's concern about the suffering people of Myanmar. “At the same time, the world needs a greater understanding of Myanmar.”
The cardinal argues that like any nation, Myanmar has its own legitimate reasons for security. “The world needs to understand struggle democracy faces in this country. The international community needs to accompany this nation of fledgeling democracy. All stakeholders are trying to recast a new Myanmar,” the cardinal says, warning that “any sanction will adversely impact our simple people”.
Early in December, before Suu Kyi testified at the ICJ, the cardinal urged the international community not to inadvertently penalize the poor and innocent people of his country with sanctions in its effort to hold those responsible for crimes against humanity accountable.
Help realize people's dreams
In his Christmas message, the cardinal says that the people of Myanmar cannot afford nightmares any more, warning that any relapse would be shattering for the country. “Christmas is the story of a dream of a better future. Let that dream be a reality in Myanmar of today,” he urges.
Cardinal Bo concludes his Christmas message urging the international community to “understand Myanmar people, their dreams, their tears”. The people of Myanmar, he says, need understanding, advice and accompanying by the international community, not condemnation.