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Day: November 28, 2017

Pope Francis on need to respect all Myanmar’s ethnic groups

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis began his first full day in Myanmar on Tuesday with an unscheduled encounter at the Archbishop’s House, meeting with a group of 17  leaders from the different religious traditions present in the country.
Following that encounter, he travelled by plane up to the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, where he met President Htin Kyaw and Burmese leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, before addressing diplomats and government leaders gathered at an international convention centre.
Philippa Hitchen is in Myanmar following this papal visit and takes a closer look at the pope’s words to the nation’s leaders…
Listen to her report:

Inside the convention centre sat a colourful mix of military men in green uniforms, cardinals and bishops, diplomats and politicians in traditional coloured sarongs and flip flops. A row of children in ethnic costumes flanked the pope and ‘The Lady’ as they took their place on stage.
Unsurprisingly, in a country still struggling to emerge from half a century of military dictatorship, the pope’s words were firmly focused on dialogue, reconciliation and respect for human rights .
Respect all ethnic identities
He spoke plainly about the suffering people have endured, “and continue to suffer, from civil conflict and hostilities”, without mentioning by name the different states where government troops are fighting against armed independence groups. He reiterated the need to respect the identity of each ethnic group, adding “none excluded”, and he insisted that conflicts must be resolved “through dialogue, not the use of force”.
Aung San Suu Kyi on Rakhine conflict
In her words to the pope, Aung San Suu Kyi talked directly of the challenges in Rakhine state, which has been the focus of such intense criticism from the international community. She said the government is seeking to address the many social, economic and political problems there, highlighting the need to rebuilt trust and cooperation. Among the Muslim leaders, whom the pope met at the earlier interreligious encounter in Yangon, was a member of the advisory commission for the Rakhine, chaired by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.
Many internally displaced people
But it’s not just the Muslins fleeing across the northern border into Bangladesh, who have suffered from violent repression. During a visit to the predominantly Christian Kachin state, ahead of the pope’s arrival, I met Catholic families in one of the many camps for internally displaced people, whose villages were destroyed and who survive on aid from international organisations. The Church runs education and health programmes, trying to improve the desperate living conditions, but all agree there can be no real development without peace between the warring parties.
Healing of wounds a paramount priority
The healing of the wounds of war, Pope Francis insisted in his first speech here, “must be a paramount political and spiritual priority”, adding that the country’s religious communities “have a privileged role to play” in this difficult task. Of the 16 Catholic dioceses in Myanmar, 15 primarily serve the many ethnic minorities. Church leaders will be hoping the politicians take his words to heart, increasing efforts towards real democracy and equal rights for all.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis addresses Myanmar’s leaders: Full text

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday addressed Myanmar’s government authorities, civil societies, and the diplomatic corps in the capital Nay Pyi Taw, while on his Apostolic Visit to Myanmar.
Please find below the official English translation of the Pope’s speech:
Address to Government Authorities, Civil Societies  and the Diplomatic Corps
Naw Pyi Taw, Convention Center
Tuesday, 28 November 2017
Madam State Counsellor,
Honourable Government and Civil Authorities,
Your Eminence, My Brother Bishops,
Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am grateful for the kind invitation to visit Myanmar and I thank you, Madam State Counsellor, for your kind words.  I am very grateful to all who have worked so hard to make this visit possible.  I have come, above all, to pray with the nation’s small but fervent Catholic community, to confirm them in their faith, and to encourage them in their efforts to contribute to the good of the nation.  I am most grateful that my visit comes soon after the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Myanmar and the Holy See.  I would like to see this decision as a sign of the nation’s commitment to pursuing dialogue and constructive cooperation within the greater international community, even as it strives to renew the fabric of civil society.
I would also like my visit to embrace the entire population of Myanmar and to offer a word of encouragement to all those who are working to build a just, reconciled and inclusive social order.  Myanmar has been blessed with great natural beauty and resources, yet its greatest treasure is its people, who have suffered greatly, and continue to suffer, from civil conflict and hostilities that have lasted all too long and created deep divisions.  As the nation now works to restore peace, the healing of those wounds must be a paramount political and spiritual priority.  I can only express appreciation for the efforts of the Government to take up this challenge, especially through the Panglong Peace Conference, which brings together representatives of the various groups in an attempt to end violence, to build trust and to ensure respect for the rights of all who call this land their home. 
Indeed, the arduous process of peacebuilding and national reconciliation can only advance through a commitment to justice and respect for human rights.  The wisdom of the ancients defined justice precisely as a steadfast will to give each person his due, while the prophets of old saw justice as the basis of all true and lasting peace.  These insights, confirmed by the tragic experience of two world wars, led to the establishment of the United Nations and the universal declaration of human rights as the basis for the international community’s efforts to promote justice, peace and human development worldwide, and to resolve conflicts through dialogue, not the use of force.  In this sense, the presence of the diplomatic corps in our midst testifies not only to Myanmar’s place in the concert of nations, but also to the country’s commitment to uphold and pursue those foundational principles.  The future of Myanmar must be peace, a peace based on respect for the dignity and rights of each member of society, respect for each ethnic group and its identity, respect for the rule of law, and respect for a democratic order that enables each individual and every group – none excluded – to offer its legitimate contribution to the common good.
In the great work of national reconciliation and integration, Myanmar’s religious communities have a privileged role to play.  Religious differences need not be a source of division and distrust, but rather a force for unity, forgiveness, tolerance and wise nationbuilding.  The religions can play a significant role in repairing the emotional, spiritual and psychological wounds of those who have suffered in the years of conflict.  Drawing on deeply-held values, they can help to uproot the causes of conflict, build bridges of dialogue, seek justice and be a prophetic voice for all who suffer.  It is a great sign of hope that leaders of the various religious traditions in this country are making efforts to work together, in a spirit of harmony and mutual respect, for peace, for helping the poor and for educating in authentic religious and human values.  In seeking to build a culture of encounter and solidarity, they contribute to the common good and to laying the indispensable moral foundations for a future of hope and prosperity for coming generations.
That future is even now in the hands of the nation’s young people.  The young are a gift to be cherished and encouraged, an investment that will yield a rich return if only they are given real opportunities for employment and quality education.  This is an urgent requirement of intergenerational justice.  The future of Myanmar in a rapidly changing and interconnected world will depend on the training of its young, not only in technical fields, but above all in the ethical values of honesty, integrity and human solidarity that can ensure the consolidation of democracy and the growth of unity and peace at every level of society.  Intergenerational justice likewise demands that future generations inherit a natural environment unspoilt by human greed and depredation.  It is essential that our young not be robbed of hope and of the chance to employ their idealism and talents in shaping the future of their country and, indeed, our entire human family.
Madam State Counsellor, dear friends:
In these days, I wish to encourage my Catholic brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith and to continue to express its message of reconciliation and brotherhood through charitable and humanitarian works that benefit society as a whole.  It is my hope that, in respectful cooperation with the followers of other religions, and all men and women of good will, they will help to open a new era of concord and progress for the people of this beloved nation.  “Long live Myanmar!”   I thank you for your attention, and with prayerful good wishes for your service to the common good, I invoke upon all of you the divine blessings of wisdom, strength and peace.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope urges Myanmar’s religions to build peace and unity amidst differences ?

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with  17 leaders of Myanmar’s religious communities Tuesday morning, exhorting them that peace consists in unity in diversity, not in uniformity.  The Pope met leaders of Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Catholic and other Christian communities at the Archbishop’s House in Yangon, at the start of his first full day of his Nov. 27-30 apostolic visit to Myanmar.
The Holy See’s spokesman, Greg Burke said that the during his 40-minute meeting with them, the Pope urged them to work together to rebuild the country and that if they argue, they should argue like brothers, who reconcile afterwards.  
Unity is not uniformity
After various leaders spoke, Pope Francis spoke off-hand in Spanish helped by an interpreter.  Alluding to the Psalms, he said, “ How beautiful it is to see brothers united!”   He explained that being united does not mean being equal.  “Unity is not uniformity, even within a religious community.  Each one has his values, his riches as also shortcomings,” the Pope said, adding, “we are all different.”  Each confession has its riches and traditions to give and share .  And this can happen only if all live in peace.  “ Peace ,” the Pope stressed, “consists in a chorus of differences .”  “Unity comes about in differences.”
Uniformity kills
“Peace is harmony,” the Pope said, noting that there is a trend in the world towards uniformity to make everybody equal.  But he denounced this as a “cultural colonization” that “kills humanity.”    He said religious leaders should understand the richness of our differences – ethnic, religious or popular – and what results from these differences is dialogue.  “As brothers, we can learn from these differences,” the Pope stressed, exhorting the religious leaders to “build the country, which is so rich and diverse even geographically.” 
Nature in Myanmar is very rich in differences, the Pope said, urging them not be afraid of differences. “Since we have one Father and we are all brothers , let us be brothers,” the Pope urged.  And if they have to debate among themselves, let it be as brothers, which will soon bring about reconciliation and peace.   “Build peace without allowing yourselves be made uniform by the colonization of cultures,” the Pope appealed.  “One builds true divine harmony through differences.  Differences are a richness for peace ,” the Pope added. 
(from Vatican Radio)…