FEATURE: Cardinal Bo: ‘We Can Reverse a History of Betrayal’

Encouraging Dialogue, FABC President Underscores States Are Entitled to Arm & Defend Themselves ‘But Democracy’s Greatest Weapons Are Influential Tools of Reconciliation & Justice’

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“We can reverse a history of betrayal,” says Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, noting dialogue is of the essence.

The President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) underscored this in an Aug. 15 statement of encouragement which His Eminence has provided to ZENIT English.

Myanmar is emerging from decades of military rule after Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won the 2015 elections and subsequently took office.

The Muslim minority of the Rohingyas is considered by the UN to be one of the most persecuted. According to data from the Arakan Project, a humanitarian organization defending Rohingyas rights, since 2010, some 100,000 members of the minority have fled Burma (Myanmar) by sea. Violence between radical Buddhists and Rohingyas has left, since 2012, more than 200 dead and 140,000 displaced.

Longing for Peace

Beginning with “warm greetings of peace” in his Aug. 15 message, the Cardinal expressed his earnest prayers, together with my fellow religious leaders of Myanmar, for successful, tangible outcomes from the 21st Century Panglong Conference.

“We join you in longing for peace. Peace is our destiny. With you we commit to achieve it,” he said.

Noting they have gathered to honor the memory of General Aung San and the martyrs who dreamed of a new, united nation after “the wreckage of invasion and colonialism,” the Asian prelate reminded that their vision was to build on “the fertile, life giving differences among us, and so shape a proud, united people.”

“We honor their sacrifice,” he said, “by humbly committing to union as a nation.”

Their “cruel assassination” 73 years ago, he lamented, marked the beginnings of decades of divisions, conflict and darkness for our people – the very opposite of their lofty vision.  “That act of treachery began a merciless epoch with brothers and sisters pitted against one another needlessly. We weep for our loss as a nation,” he said.

With positivity, Cardinal Bo suggested: “We can reverse this history of betrayal.”

The current Covid-19 pandemic, he said, exposes “the folly” of continued conflict anywhere, noting that only through unity, the virus will be overcome.

The President of Asia’s bishops reminded that the United Nations Secretary General and Pope Francis passionately plead that all conflicts be suspended so that a greater, common enemy is defeated.

No Path Other Than Dialogue

Being unified, the Cardinal stressed, can enable the nation to be rebuilt after the socioeconomic, environmental and medical wreckage of the global pandemic.

In the aftermath of this Covid-19 pandemic and his nation’s history, Cardinal Bo asked: “what do we need to do that can truly transform our relationships, among people, with nature, and with the source of all being? ”

In response, he says: dialogue.

“There is no other path than dialogue.  Dialogue flows from open hearts and minds, from that passion for truth without which society disintegrates. Vitality comes from the embrace of difference.  We’re all damaged by war. No one wins. The only way is peace.  With peace, humanity wins.”

“Faithful to the vision of our founders, a path to democracy is chosen for Myanmar. In the Union of Myanmar, economic and political federalism is now possible.” The Cardinal noted he greets and thanks all those who are leading on this path through “respectful dialogue” and “the persuasive power of negotiation.”

Appeals Regarding Military Solutions

“Counterproductive military solutions,” he said, ought to be “abandoned in favor of cooperation, civility and sagacity.”

“One military, one army, is sufficient for any nation,” he appealed, calling for “a military that works for justice and peace; a military which is inclusive of all ethnic groups, without any discrimination.”

“Gradually,” he underscored, “the military must come under the authority of a democratically accountable elected President.  A State is entitled to arm itself, and to use its armed forces for its defense, but democracy’s greatest weapons are the influential tools of reconciliation and justice.”

The Cardinal recalled that his nation’s greatest gifts are its people and natural resources. A representative government, he said, can ensure care for all the nation’s citizens.

“Myanmar will claim her place in Asia and the world by demonstrating how she respects her people, providing safety nets even for the poorest. Peace is possible. Peace means development.  Peace is our destiny.”

Cardinal Bo concluded praying: “May this Conference, we pray, find the vision, courage and heart to take the path to peace.”

Here is His Eminence’s message:

***

Statement of Encouragement from

H. E. Cardinal Charles  Bo

15 – August 2020

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Warm greetings of peace. Please know of my earnest prayers, together with my fellow religious leaders of Myanmar, for successful, tangible outcomes from this 21st Century Panglong. We join you in longing for peace. Peace is our destiny. With you we commit to achieve it.

We are gathered to honour the memory of General Aung San and the martyrs who dreamed of a new, united nation after the wreckage of invasion and colonialism. Their vision was to build on the fertile, life giving differences among us, and so shape a proud, united people. We honour their sacrifice by humbly committing to union as a nation.

Their cruel assassination seventy three years ago marked the beginnings of decades of divisions, conflict and darkness for our people – the very opposite of their lofty vision.  That act of treachery began a merciless epoch with brothers and sisters pitted against one another needlessly. We weep for our loss as a nation.

We can reverse this history of betrayal. The current Covid-19 pandemic exposes the folly of continued conflict anywhere. The virus will only be overcome through unity. The United Nations Secretary General and Pope Francis passionately plead that all conflicts be suspended so that a greater, common enemy is defeated. Through unity we will rebuild our nation after the socio-economic, environmental and medical wreckage of the global pandemic.

In the aftermath of this Covid-19 crisis, and following our unhelpful history of conflict, what do we need to do that can truly transform our relationships, among people, with nature, and with the source of all being?  There is no other path than dialogue.  Dialogue flows from open hearts and minds, from that passion for truth without which society disintegrates. Vitality comes from the embrace of difference.  We’re all damaged by war. No one wins. The only way is peace.  With peace, humanity wins.

Faithful to the vision of our founders, a path to democracy is chosen for Myanmar. In the Union of Myanmar, economic and political federalism is now possible. We salute and thank all who lead us on this path through respectful dialogue and the persuasive power of negotiation.

Counterproductive military solutions are abandoned in favour of cooperation, civility and sagacity. One military, one army, is sufficient for any nation; a military that works for justice and peace; a military which is inclusive of all ethnic groups, without any discrimination. Gradually, the military must come under the authority of a democratically accountable elected President.  A State is entitled to arm itself, and to use its armed forces for its defence, but democracy’s greatest weapons are the influential tools of reconciliation and justice.

Myanmar is gifted in our peoples and in natural resources. A representative government cares for all her citizens. Myanmar will claim her place in Asia and the world by demonstrating how she respects her people, providing safety nets even for the poorest. Peace is possible. Peace means development.  Peace is our destiny.  May this Conference, we pray, find the vision, courage and heart to take the path to peace.

Cardinal Charles  Bo

Patron: Religions for Peace – Myanmar

Co-President: RfP International

President: Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences

Cardinal Archbishop of Yangon

 

 

[Text of Message was given by Cardinal Bo to ZENIT’s Deborah Lubov ]
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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio, Sky, and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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