The Burmese bishop, who acted as papal legate at the congress in Cebu, led the final Mass of the event. In his homily, he came down hard on the attacks on the family, the basic unit of society. He also praised the Philippines, a light for evangelisation and the mission of the third millennium. The Eucharist remains the source and summit of a life commitment.
Cebu (AsiaNews) – In his homily during the final Mass of the 51st international Eucharistic Congress (IEC), which was held in Cebu (Philippines) on 25-31 January, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon and papal legate, said that “Asia and Africa struggle with families that are poor, that are oppressed. Rich countries have diverted the attention of poverty and oppression with great discourses in new forms of families, new forms of parenthood. More than any nuclear bomb, more than any terrorism, a mortal danger awaits humanity because some countries have chosen a path of destroying families through laws.”
Centred on the theme "Christ in us Hope of glory", the congress provided a venue to discuss evangelisation and mission not only in Asia but also around the world. In his address, the cardinal came down hard on those who threaten the basis of life and the family unity. At the same time, he praised the role of the Philippines as a beacon of evangelisation in the third millennium.
“The Eucharist is sown and grown in the family,” he said. “The family is the first communion. The family is the nuclear church. Table fellowship is held regularly in the family. [The] Family breaks the bread every day.” For this reason, it “needs to be protected and promoted and nurtured.”
“Pope Francis,” the prelate added, “has been concerned [for the] last three years with three major dangers to the world”. They include “environmental injustice, economic injustice,” but “the greatest danger to humanity today is the destruction of the family. Sadly, even among the Catholic Church understanding of the family is contested.”
Speaking about the week of meetings and reflections that just ended, the archbishop of Yangon said that "We came from various Countries, we spoke various languages. But like the day of the Pentecost, the Eucharist deepened our relationships." This was a moment "of Grace", enriched by the hospitality of the Philippines and its people, whom the Burmese cardinal called "apostles of smiling".
In his homily, which he sent to AsiaNews, the prelate stressed the centrality of the Philippines for the mission in the third millennium. As the only Asian country with a Catholic majority, its destiny is “glory and prosperity and spirituality. It will become the lamp set on the mountain, becoming a light not only to Asia but to the whole world.”
For the papal legate, "The Philippines needs Hope. The church needs hope. Our families need Hope. The world today needs a four-letter word: HOPE. As the “biggest Catholic Country in Asia,” the Philippines “holds great hope,” he noted. “I do not deny the challenges – poverty, unsafe migration etc., but this nation holds great promises to the Catholic world.”
“Philippines! The star from the East! Rejoice. Your time with destiny has arrived. You will be the chosen one, not only for Asia, but for the world in this millennium.”
“Filipinas: go, multiply your missionaries! Go and populate those countries where Christianity is becoming minorities! Go to countries that have more pets than children!”
On the issue of the family, Card Bo said that the Filipinos “have two great graces. Your family integrity is strong. You have the lowest divorce rates in the region. Many rich countries have money but no families. Second, you have a high “number of young people. What a blessing!”
Finally, the prelate stressed "centrality" of the Eucharist, which "remains the source and summit of your life commitment. [. . .] we need to be energized by the theology of the Eucharist," he explained.
Let us not forget that “the first Eucharist was celebrated by a condemned man, a powerless man, a man whose ‘heart was troubled’.” Yet, “The power of Eucharist flowed from those empty hands,” and “it continues to inspire us. Eucharist is true presence; Eucharist is the mission; Eucharist is the service.”