December 13, 2017

Pope prays for Myanmar healing

Pope Francis, right, meets Dr. Bhaddanata Kumarabhivamsa, the chairman of the State Sangha Mahanayaka Committee. Photo: MNA
Pope Francis, right, meets Dr. Bhaddanata Kumarabhivamsa, the chairman of the State Sangha Mahanayaka Committee. Photo: MNA

Pope Francis celebrated the nation’s first-ever papal Mass yesterday morning when he conducted an open-air service for an estimated 200,000 people in Kyaikkasan Sports Grounds in Yangon.
He called on the crowd to “anoint every hurt and every painful memory” and promote “the reconciliation and peace that God wants to reign in every human heart and in every community.”
The mass was attended by the Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr. Myint Htwe, Yangon Region ministers, dignitaries from the ruling National League for Democracy, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, the Archbishop of Yangon, bishops from neighbouring countries and thousands of Catholic worshippers.
In his sermon, the pontiff urged the people of Myanmar to resist retaliation and reprisals.
“I know that many in Myanmar bear the wounds of violence, wounds both visible and invisible,” he told the crowd in Italian that was translated into Burmese. He said the temptation is to exact revenge, but urged a response of “forgiveness and compassion.”
The Pope said he was impressed with the work being done by the Church for all of Myanmar, efforts that will help the country lift itself both spiritually and economically.
“I know that the Church in Myanmar is already doing much to bring the healing balm of God’s mercy to others, especially those most in need. There are clear signs that even with very limited means, many communities are proclaiming the Gospel to other tribal minorities, never forcing or coercing but always inviting and welcoming.
Amid much poverty and difficulty, many of you offer practical assistance and solidarity to the poor and suffering”, the Pope said. As the Pope entered Kyaikkasan Sports Ground in Yangon yesterday morning, crowds of Myanmar worshippers waved Vatican and Burmese flags while Francis passed them in the Popemobile, as he made his way to the temporary altar to offer Mass. Catholics represent a tiny fraction of the population in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, with a major portion of Catholics among the Kachin and Shan ethnics in the far northeastern part of the country.
“Many of you have come from far and remote mountainous areas, some even on foot,” he said to the crowd. “I have come as a fellow pilgrim to listen and to learn from you, as well as to offer you some words of hope and consolation.” Later in the day, the pontiff met with Bhaddanta Kumarabhivamsa, the Chairman of State of the Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee. He met with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday. The Pope will leave Myanmar today to travel to Bangladesh, where he will spend several days before returning to the Vatican.—Myanmar News Agency

Pope Francis, centre, in the Popemobile, greets the large crowd at Kyaikkasan Grounds in Yangon. The pontiff then celebrated an outdoor Mass. Photo: Myanmar News Agency
Pope Francis, centre, in the Popemobile, greets the large crowd at Kyaikkasan Grounds in Yangon. The pontiff then celebrated an outdoor Mass. Photo: Myanmar News Agency

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