Bangkok (Agenzia Fides) - In Asia we must preach peace, promote reconciliation, practice non-violence, to counter religious extremism: said Burmese Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon and president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), addressing the leaders of the Asian Churches gathered in recent days in Bangkok for the seminar on "Bible and evangelization in Asia". The Cardinal cited the historic leader of the struggle for freedom in India, Mahatma Gandhi, as "the apostle of non-violence" as a source of inspiration. Recalling that "Gandhi said: an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind", the Cardinal mentioned the Easter massacre in Sri Lanka, noting that "Christians have become the scapegoats" of many tensions and political interests.
"I come from a country where religious extremism saw violence and tears of the thousands", said the Cardinal, recalling the words of Pope Francis, who visited Myanmar and left a mandate saying: "Do not repay hatred with the hate. Be an instrument of peace".
The Cardinal then invited Catholics and their leaders to become "people of Hope": "We cannot allow ourselves to be gripped by fear and paralysis. These are the moments the Shepherds need to walk through the way of the Cross, never losing the hope of a better tomorrow – not only for our people but those who fell victim to evil". He then recalled that "violence is for the weak: "Non-Violence and forgiveness is possible only for those who are strong morally and spiritually", because they are filled with the Spirit of God.
The Cardinal did not hesitate to list "nationalism, terrorism, religious extremism, market economy and manipulation of collective anger", as lethal threats to the lives of Asian populations. And he reiterated commitments presented by him when he was elected at the head of the FABC: Increased focus on social development and pastoral care of our people; Work for the plea of Pope Francis to overcome the obstacles of economic and environmental injustices; The importance of re-engaging with the indigenous church and affirming the rights of indigenous people to resources and traditional ways of life. He then remarked that "reconciliation has to be prioritized as part of a ‘new evangelization’ in Asia, not least amid areas of chronic violent conflict. (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 31/5/2019)