Pope Francis speaks during a meeting with government authorities, members of civil society and the diplomatic corps at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Nov. 28. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, addressed Myanmar's government authorities, civil societies, and the diplomatic corps in the capital Nay Pyi Taw, while on his Apostolic Visit to Myanmar. Please find below the official English translation of the Pope's speech:
Madam State Counsellor,
Honourable Government and Civil Authorities,
Your Eminence, My Brother Bishops,
Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am grateful for the kind invitation to visit Myanmar and I thank you, Madam State Counsellor, for your kind words. I am very grateful to all who have worked so hard to make this visit possible. I have come, above all, to pray with the nation’s small but fervent Catholic community, to confirm them in their faith, and to encourage them in their efforts to contribute to the good of the nation. I am most grateful that my visit comes soon after the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Myanmar and the Holy See. I would like to see this decision as a sign of the nation’s commitment to pursuing dialogue and constructive cooperation within the greater international community, even as it strives to renew the fabric of civil society.
I would also like my visit to embrace the entire population of Myanmar and to offer a word of encouragement to all those who are working to build a just, reconciled and inclusive social order. Myanmar has been blessed with great natural beauty and resources, yet its greatest treasure is its people, who have suffered greatly, and continue to suffer, from civil conflict and hostilities that have lasted all too long and created deep divisions. As the nation now works to restore peace, the healing of those wounds must be a paramount political and spiritual priority. I can only express appreciation for the efforts of the Government to take up this challenge, especially through the Panglong Peace Conference, which brings together representatives of the various groups in an attempt to end violence, to build trust and to ensure respect for the rights of all who call this land their home.
Indeed, the arduous process of peacebuilding and national reconciliation can only advance through a commitment to justice and respect for human rights. The wisdom of the ancients defined justice precisely as a steadfast will to give each person his due, while the prophets of old saw justice as the basis of all true and lasting peace. These insights, confirmed by the tragic experience of two world wars, led to the establishment of the United Nations and the universal declaration of human rights as the basis for the international community’s efforts to promote justice, peace and human development worldwide, and to resolve conflicts through dialogue, not the use of force. In this sense, the presence of the diplomatic corps in our midst testifies not only to Myanmar’s place in the concert of nations, but also to the country’s commitment to uphold and pursue those foundational principles. The future of Myanmar must be peace, a peace based on respect for the dignity and rights of each member of society, respect for each ethnic group and its identity, respect for the rule of law, and respect for a democratic order that enables each individual and every group – none excluded – to offer its legitimate contribution to the common good.
In the great work of national reconciliation and integration, Myanmar’s religious communities have a privileged role to play. Religious differences need not be a source of division and distrust, but rather a force for unity, forgiveness, tolerance and wise nationbuilding. The religions can play a significant role in repairing the emotional, spiritual and psychological wounds of those who have suffered in the years of conflict. Drawing on deeply-held values, they can help to uproot the causes of conflict, build bridges of dialogue, seek justice and be a prophetic voice for all who suffer. It is a great sign of hope that leaders of the various religious traditions in this country are making efforts to work together, in a spirit of harmony and mutual respect, for peace, for helping the poor and for educating in authentic religious and human values. In seeking to build a culture of encounter and solidarity, they contribute to the common good and to laying the indispensable moral foundations for a future of hope and prosperity for coming generations.
That future is even now in the hands of the nation’s young people. The young are a gift to be cherished and encouraged, an investment that will yield a rich return if only they are given real opportunities for employment and quality education. This is an urgent requirement of intergenerational justice. The future of Myanmar in a rapidly changing and interconnected world will depend on the training of its young, not only in technical fields, but above all in the ethical values of honesty, integrity and human solidarity that can ensure the consolidation of democracy and the growth of unity and peace at every level of society. Intergenerational justice likewise demands that future generations inherit a natural environment unspoilt by human greed and depredation. It is essential that our young not be robbed of hope and of the chance to employ their idealism and talents in shaping the future of their country and, indeed, our entire human family.
Madam State Counsellor, dear friends:
In these days, I wish to encourage my Catholic brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith and to continue to express its message of reconciliation and brotherhood through charitable and humanitarian works that benefit society as a whole. It is my hope that, in respectful cooperation with the followers of other religions, and all men and women of good will, they will help to open a new era of concord and progress for the people of this beloved nation. “Long live Myanmar!” I thank you for your attention, and with prayerful good wishes for your service to the common good, I invoke upon all of you the divine blessings of wisdom, strength and peace.
Below, find the address to Pope Francis by DawAung San SuuKyi, State Counsellor of the Republish of the Union of Myanmar
Holy Father Pope Francis, Distinguished Guests,
It is a great joy and a great honour for me to welcome you to this gathering that reaffirms our faith in the power and possibility of peace and loving kindness. Let me begin by thanking His Holiness for being with us today. Grazie per essere arrivato qui da noi.
Your Holiness, you bring us strength and hope in your understanding of our need, our longing, for peace, national reconciliation and social harmony. Our national anthem, adopted at the time of our independence, begins with the words: “Never swerving from just freedom,” reflecting the strongly held conviction of the founding fathers of our nation that true freedom cannot survive without justice. These words resonate with us today, just as they did with those who fought for independence that our people might be able to realize their full potential. It is incumbent on us to continue the task of building a nation founded on laws and institutions that will guarantee each and every one in our land justice, freedom and security. Thus, the words of Your Holiness that the prophets of old saw justice as the basis of all true and lasting peace “resonates with us, and serves as a reminder that in our quest for peace we must be guided by the wisdom and aspirations of our fathers.
Your Holiness, the challenges that Myanmar faces are many, and each challenge calls for strength, patience and courage. Our nation is a rich tapestry of different peoples, languages and religions, woven on a backdrop of vast natural potential. It is the aim of our Government to bring out the beauty of our diversity and to make it our strength, by protecting rights, fostering tolerance, ensuring security for all. Our most cherished endeavor is to carry forward the peace process based on the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement that was initiated by the previous Government. The road to peace is not always smooth but it is the only way that will lead our people to their dream of a just and prosperous land that will be their refuge, their pride, their joy. The quest for peace has to be reinforced by the attainment of sustainable development, that the future of coming generations might be assured.
Of the many challenges that our government has been facing, the situation in the Rakhine has most strongly captured the attention of the world. As we address long standing issues, social, economic and political, that have eroded trust and understanding, harmony and cooperation, between different communities in Rakhine, the support of our people and of good friends who only wish to see us succeed in our endeavours, has been invaluable. Your Holiness, the gifts of compassion and encouragement that you bring to us will be treasured and we take to heart your words in the message of the celebration of the fiftieth World Day of Peace on 1st January 2017:
“Jesus himself offers a “manual” for this strategy of peacemaking in the Sermon on the Mount. The eight Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-10) provide a portrait of the person we could describe as blessed, good and authentic. Blessed are the meek, Jesus tells us, the merciful and the peacemakers, those who are pure in heart, and those who hunger and thirst for justice.
This is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives: to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their respective responsibilities. It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost.”
Your Holiness, we are proud and happy that you have come to our country a mere six months after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Myanmar. This is not only the opening of a new era of close relations, it also constitutes a revival of old ties that I, and others of my generation, remember with affection and appreciation. I began my education at the St. Francis Convent in Rangoon which makes me fancy that I am entitled to special blessings from your Holiness. But all the blessings you confer will be shared by all of us that we may be able to spread goodwill and joy throughout our land.
Your Holiness, each age in the life of a nation brings its own responsibilities just as it has to bear the legacies of the past. We today who have been given the opportunity to effect changes that could open new vistas of progress for our nation, will strive to discharge our duties with probity and humility. We wish to leave to the future a land that has been nurtured with care and respect, a healthy land, a beautiful land. We wish to leave to the future a people united and at peace, secure in their capacity to grow and prosper in a changing world; a compassionate and generous people, always ready to hold out a helping hand to those in need; a people strong in skills and whole in spirit.
Your Holiness, the children of your Church in this country are also the children of Myanmar, loved and cherished. We thank them, as we thank you, for praying for our nation and all the peoples of the world. The road ahead is long but we will walk it with confidence, trusting in the power of peace, love and joy.
Continuiamo a camminare insieme con fiducia. I thank you all.