12/11/2021, 15.52
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Card Bo’s appeal: Peace and non-violence are the way of Christmas

In his message for Advent, the archbishop of Yangon expresses his thoughts with regards to the violence that has raged across his country in the past ten months following the military coup. “Those expected to guard the life and security of our people have become a frightening cause of distress and dread,” he laments. “[T]wo to three million of our people are hungry for food; but all the people of Myanmar are hungry for justice”. He pleads to young people to “Hold the truth”, not guns.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Cardinal Charles Bo, archbishop of Yangon, issued a message for Advent. In it he writes that real Christmas will come to Myanmar when the country believes in peace.

The cardinal, who is also president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), speaks about the conflict triggered by the coup d'état of 1 February with which the military overthrew the democratically elected government.

“The repugnant violence over the last ten months has offended the sensibilities of the world. Yet we do not accept the evil of despair and hate. With Jesus, we wish to proclaim: let there be peace. To the nation of self-inflicted wounds, we say: Enough is enough my dear Myanmar.”

“We do not ever condone injustice and the suffering of the innocents. Those expected to guard the life and security of our people have become a frightening cause of distress and dread. Even to them, we say: There is power in Love. That is the message of Jesus and Christmas.”

In his message, Card Bo notes that “just a year ago, this country held lofty dreams in her heart, sadly it convoluted into a nightmare so soon.” In view of this, he urges the faithful to experience Christmas as a “moment of introspection,” noting that “those who believe only in violence, those who perpetrate it and those who fall victims”; “Those who proactively started the violence and believe in the sadistic torture and killing are the primary cause of this valley of tears.

“I am deeply concerned about our youth. Just a year ago they had their dreams. Dreams are not killed by guns. Strangled by inhuman violence, the temptation is to seek vengeance. Victory does not come only through holding guns. Hold the truth; hold love. There is always a nonviolent path, a peaceful solution.

“Once again, I appeal not to follow the path of violence. Violence only breeds violence. Change course. Believe in truth; belief in the power of love. Mahatma Gandhi has sobering advice for all [those] tossed by inhuman violence. Non-Violence is not for the weak-hearted. It is the weapon of the strong.”

“Pope Francis,” Card Bo writes, “consistently speaks” in favour of “the people of Myanmar. During his visit, he chose to meet everyone just for the cause of peace. He left the mandate of peace-making to the Myanmar church. This appeal continues his appeal. Let us seek peace and reconciliation. Let us knock at every door, let us knock at the powers [that be]. History is on our side.

“Seeking a peaceful method is not diluting any rights. The Catholic church’s concept of peace starts with the quest for justice. Not an empty peace” but “Peace born out of justice. There can be no durable peace without justice in this country.

“Jesus,” Card Bo writes” preached: blessed are the peacemakers, in the sermon on the Mount”. Likewise, he “also said, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice. Yes, two to three million of our people are hungry for food; but all the people of Myanmar are hungry for justice. Till that hunger is quenched, this country will not settle into peace.”

For the archbishop of Yangon, this coming Christmas can bring hope for it “takes a very special yearning; of hope that all of us can live in Peace. We do hope all those in prisons can return home, all those in the IDP camps can return home, all those in hiding can freely walk, all wounded be healed, all broken families are united and all the guns will fall silent.”

“Let us accept that collective goodness in our hearts is more powerful than fragmented hatred. We learn from many countries in South East Asia like Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos suspended conflict and started developing their countries. We are endowed with resources above and below the ground. No Peace.”

“In this Advent season, we pray for all, especially the young people. We pray that they continue to nurture hope and peace. Let them not seek solutions out of despair. We also pray for those who seek to dominate our people with guns. Our conflicts were never against a cross border enemy. All against our people. We can solve our differences.

“Real Christmas is when this country believes in peaceful means. Let the prophecy of Isiah, prominently displayed in the UN building, become our reality from this Advent season.” As the good book says: They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks” and “the ‘Nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore (Is 2:4)’.”

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