“Unity in Diversity” was the main theme of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Myanmar (Burma) from November 27-30, 2017. Thus Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office, summarized this trip on the eve of its conclusion, stressing the Pope’s appeal for respect of the rights of all the ethnic groups.
During a briefing at Yangon, alongside three Burmese Bishops, Greg Burke greeted a “historic voyage” for the “small Church” of Myanmar, a country of Buddhist majority. The Argentine Pontiff was the first Pope to tread Burmese soil.
“One can describe the Pope’s trip with these words, said the Director, in words reported by Vatican Radio: unity in diversity, as the Pope said . . . with the religious leaders [November 28, 2017]. Unity also for this small Catholic Church and for the role it plays in the whole society . . . and the unity of working together, with the Buddhists . . . for peace and for respect of dignity.”
Recalling the situation of the Rohingya Muslim minority, which term is prohibited by the Government, Greg Burke deplored “a very grave humanitarian situation.” However, he appealed not to reduce an Apostolic Journey to just one political question. Although not pronouncing the word, the Holy Father “calls attention, seeks to help. And one who wants to understand, understands when the Pope speaks of respect of the rights of all, without exclusion,” he said.
The Bishops, who surrounded the Director of the Press Office, confided that, some hours earlier, Pope Francis spoke to them of the Church as a “field hospital,” an expression that is dear to him.
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester