Church of Scotland Moderator hosts visit from Myanmar Cardinal

By agency reporter
May 11, 2016

The Moderator of the Church of Scotland and church staff have hosted a visit from Cardinal Bo of Myanmar, Archbishop of Yangon and the first Catholic Cardinal ever for Myanmar, appointed by Pope Francis in 2015.

The Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison introduced the Cardinal, noting that he has chosen the motto, 'I can do all things through him who gives me strength' (Philippians 4-13) and has pledged to be a voice for the voiceless.

"He has long been one of the most outspoken voices for human rights, religious freedom, inter-religious harmony, peace and justice in the country," the Moderator said. "I am sure we will have a good time together. You are among friends."

The Cardinal spoke to a group that included council conveners, senior Church staff and visitors includingrepresentatives from the Catholic Church, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Aid to the Church in Need, and the Scottish Bible Society. Benedict Rogers, East Asia team leader for Christian Solidarity Worldwide arranged the visit.

The Cardinal explained the situation in Myanmar, telling the group that Christians make up seven  per cent of Myanmar's population, as do Muslims, while around 85 per cent are Buddhists.

Since the British left what was then known as Burma in 1948, the country has seen continual ethnic and religious conflict. Yet the country is changing, Cardinal Bo said.

In 2016, in a landmark election, the National League for Democracy, the party of former political prisoner, Aung San Suu Kyi, won a majority in both houses, ending more than two decades of military rule. Some Christians now hold office in government.

"They will speak up for the voiceless," Cardinal Bo said.

At the same time, more than a million Muslims exist as stateless people in Myanmar since they are classed as Bengalis by the authorities.

Cardinal Bo urged Christians to stand up for this group, also known as the Rohingya and said he will work with other religious leaders to build peace. "One hundred percent of our people belong to one religion or the other, and the culture values obedience to elders, respect for parents and teachers" he said.

He concluded: "The role of religious leaders is very important. Words from religious leaders have a real impact on people so inter-religious dialogue is very important. All the religious leaders should join together and set an example."

* Church of Scotland http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/home

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