MYANMAR - INDIA
Archbishop of Yangon: signals of "positive" change from government
Archbishop Bo speaks of a people "full of hope" after more than 50 years of military rule that has hit the Church and citizens. The prelate does not deny "restrictions" or "discrimination", but sees a future of hope for the faithful. He defines India as the reference "model" and repeats the words of John Paul II: Asia mission territory for the third millennium.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Burmese government has launched new "positive signals" such as the recent release of political prisoners and, before that, of Aung San Suu Kyi, now committed "actively in dialogue" with various ministers and the president Thein Sein, says Mgr. Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, the economic and trade capital of Myanmar. He says that “changes are in progress" the results of which will be visible in the near future, but right now the "effects" are real. "We are a people - said the current President of the Office for Human Development (OHD), of the Federation of Asian Bishops (FABC) - full of hope."
From October 12 to 15, the President of Myanmar Thein Sein, the head of a Parliament composed largely of civilians, after decades of military dictatorship, made an official visit to India, where he was received with full honors. The country's ruling class - the result of the November 7, 2010"sham" elections - is still directly or politically supported by the army, but cracks have emerged that lead to a cautious optimism: from the release of the Nobel Laureate, the recent amnesty that affected about 300 political prisoners, the decision to halt the construction of the dam along the Irrawaddy River in Kachin territory, the ability to form trade unions and hold strikes, the hypothesis of loosening or removing media censorship.
"For over half a century - says Msgr. Bo, in India for the meeting of the Asian bishops - the country has been led by a military regime that has confiscated our mission schools, expelled foreign priests and today we have only local priests". The Archbishop of Yangon Myanmar emphasizes that the Church is not the victim of "direct persecution", but there are "restrictions" and "discrimination" as a religious minority that counts "only 1, 3% of the population." However, he adds, "there are positive signs within the Church in Burma", including the thousands of baptisms last year throughout Myanmar.
Archbishop Bo recalls the words of John Paul II: Asia is the protagonist of the third millennium, in Asia, the Catholic Church should revive the missionary journey of evangelization. "Asia is the birthplace - said the archbishop – of the world's major religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. The Holy Spirit leads the Church in its Mission and the Church's social doctrine is the guideline. "
The prelate’s concluding reflections are on India. Myanmar, should look to the country in the near future to continue down the democratic path. "India is a nation that is admired throughout Asia - says Msgr. Bo - India is the largest democracy in the world, with freedom of expression, religion and press". The Archbishop of Yangon sees it as a "very important" point of reference because "in many South Asian countries these freedoms are controlled. India, on the contrary, is a source of inspiration for all. " (NC)