Love, compassion key to interfaith harmony, says Myanmar cardinal

Thousands of Myanmar Catholics gathered Dec. 16 to celebrate the country's first cardinal, Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, celebrate his 25th anniversary

Dec 17, 2015

MYANMAR: Thousands of Myanmar Catholics gathered Dec. 16 to celebrate the country's first cardinal, Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, celebrate his 25th anniversary as a bishop.

The ceremony took place in the cardinal's home village of Monhla. Cardinal Bo concelebrated Mass at St. Michael's Church with 13 bishops and priests from Myanmar's 16 dioceses.

The cardinal urged Catholics to show love and compassion to their neighbors and to seek peaceful coexistence among the country's different religions and races.

He noted that the hallmark of life in his home village was the centuries of interfaith harmony between Buddhist and Catholic residents.

"We must act against the attitudes of one race, one religion and one language in Myanmar," Cardinal Bo said during his homily.

There is a new dawn of hope in the country following the Nov. 8 general elections that voted in Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy party.

But the outspoken cardinal cautioned that freedom of expression amid newfound freedom should not be a precursor to attack others.

Father Maurice Nyunt Wai, executive secretary of Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar, said that while villagers may belong to one religion and one race or another, they were all citizens of Myanmar.

"The main message that we convey to the people is that there has been interfaith harmony between Buddhists and Catholics for centuries by living together with unity and peace," he told.

Catherine Htu Nan from Tanai township in Kachin State joined the celebration with 270 ethnic Kachins from Myitkyina Diocese.

"I pray for the end of fighting in Kachin and for peace so that displaced people will have a safe return to their respective homes. I wanted to hear Cardinal Bo speak out about peace for our state," Htun Nan, the mother of five, told ucanews.com.

Sporadic fighting in Kachin state since a 2011 ceasefire agreement has displaced more than 100,000 Kachins who have taken temporary shelter in church-run camps.

Cardinal Bo, born in Monhla on Oct. 29, 1948, was ordained a priest for the Salesians of Don Bosco in 1976, and ordained bishop of Lashio Dec. 16, 1990. In 1996, he was transferred to Pathein Diocese and in 2003 installed as Yangon archbishop. He was made Myanmar's first cardinal on Feb. 14.--Ucannews.com

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