Pope in Myanmar calls on the bishops to stand by their flock to bring peace and reconciliation
Pope Francis leaves the bishops of Myanmar with three words: “healing, accompaniment and prophecy”. He notes, “For you, whose flocks bear the scars of this conflict and have borne valiant witness to their faith and their ancient traditions, the preaching of the Gospel must not only be a source of consolation and strength, but also a summons to foster unity, charity and healing in the life of this nation.”
Yangon (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis on Wednesday met with the 22 Catholic bishops of Myanmar with whom he ended his long day. In his address, he focused on three words: “healing, accompaniment and prophecy”.
“First, healing. The Gospel we preach is above all a message of healing, reconciliation and peace. Through the blood of Christ’s cross, God has reconciled the world to himself, and has sent us to be messengers of that healing grace. Here in Myanmar, that message has a particular resonance, as this country works to overcome deeply-rooted divisions and to build national unity. For you, whose flocks bear the scars of this conflict and have borne valiant witness to their faith and their ancient traditions, the preaching of the Gospel must not only be a source of consolation and strength, but also a summons to foster unity, charity and healing in the life of this nation. For the unity we share and celebrate is born of diversity. It values people’s differences as a source of mutual enrichment and growth. It invites people to come together in a culture of encounter and solidarity.”
“In your episcopal ministry, may you constantly experience the Lord’s guidance and help in your efforts to foster healing and communion at every level of the Church’s life, so that by their example of forgiveness and reconciling love, God’s holy people can be salt and light for hearts longing for that peace the world cannot give. The Catholic community in Myanmar can be proud of its prophetic witness to love of God and neighbour, as expressed in its outreach to the poor, the disenfranchised, and above all in these days, to the many displaced persons who lie wounded, as it were, by the roadside.”
For Francis, the “ministry of healing finds particular expression in your commitment to ecumenical dialogue and interreligious cooperation. I pray that your continuing efforts to build bridges of dialogue and to join with the followers of other religions in weaving peaceful relations will bear rich fruit for reconciliation in the life of the nation.”
“My second word to you this evening is accompaniment. A good shepherd is constantly present to his flock, guiding them as he walks at their side. As I like to say, the shepherd should bear the smell of the sheep. In our time, we are called to be ‘a Church which goes forth’ to bring the light of Christ to every periphery (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 20). As bishops, your lives and ministry are called to model this spirit of missionary outreach, above all through your regular pastoral visitation of the parishes and communities that make up your local Churches. This is a privileged means for you, as loving fathers, to accompany your priests in their daily efforts to build up the flock in holiness, fidelity and a spirit of service.
“Above all, I would ask you to make a special effort to accompany the young. Be concerned for their formation in the sound moral principles that will guide them in confronting the challenges of a rapidly changing world.”
“My third word to you is prophecy. The Church in Myanmar witnesses daily to the Gospel through its works of education and charity, its defence of human rights, its support for democratic rule. May you enable the Catholic community to continue to play a constructive part in the life of society by making your voices heard on issues of national interest, particularly by insisting on respect for the dignity and rights of all, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable.”
Finally, the pope recommended “the need to protect the environment and to ensure a just use of the nation’s rich natural resources for the benefit of future generations. The protection of God’s gift of creation cannot be separated from a sound human and social ecology. Indeed, ‘genuine care for our relationship with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and keeping faith with others’ (Laudato Si’, 70).”