Cardinal Charles Bo says the flame of hope must never be extinguished. (Photo: AFP)

By UCA News reporter

June 27 2022

Asian bishops’ leader tells conference that Christians can overcome crises by breaking down barriers and pursuing peace.

Myanmar’s Cardinal Charles Bo has called on Christians to be “agents of hope” as war, threats to religious freedom, Covid-19 and climate change challenge the world.

The president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences said that “whether we are carrying our cross or rising from it, we must hold on to hope.”

“Not a false hope. Not a Hollywood hope. Not a hope of romantic happy endings that we see in the movies. But gritty, earthy, real hope, grounded in our real source of strength — our Crucified and Risen Lord,” Cardinal Bo said.

He was addressing the Catholic Peacebuilding Network’s virtual conference at the University of Notre Dame from June 20-23 on the theme of “Catholic Peacebuilding in Times of Crisis: Hope for a Wounded World.”

“Hope is more like petrol — it is fuel provided to equip you to break through the crises,” said the cardinal, adding that “sometimes the flame blazes. Other times the flame flickers. But never, ever let the flame go out.”

Cardinal Bo said the flame of hope requires dialogue, peacebuilding, conflict resolution and reconciliation, the pursuit of justice, accountability and truth, and the provision of humanitarian assistance such as food, shelter, medicine and education.

“And when we have hope in times of crisis, we should deploy that hope to build bridges between peoples, ethnicities and cultures, to break down barriers, and to pursue peace”

“When we have hope in times of crisis, that hope should turn into an outstretched hand of friendship to others who may have different beliefs but the same humanity,” he stressed.

“And when we have hope in times of crisis, we should deploy that hope to build bridges between peoples, ethnicities and cultures, to break down barriers, and to pursue peace.”

Cardinal Bo, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar, said his country has endured a triple whammy of Covid-19, a military coup and conflict in a human rights, humanitarian, economic and political catastrophe.

Over a million people have been internally displaced, more than 1,800 killed and at least 14,000 detained in the 17 months since the coup in the Southeast Asian nation.

“But I won’t pretend that when the military seized power in a coup yet again on February 1, 2021, hopes were not dashed. They were, very severely,” the cardinal noted.

“Peace, dialogue, reconciliation can only be achieved when wrongs are acknowledged, truth is upheld and those responsible for terrible crimes — atrocity crimes — are held accountable and justice is done”

“In the midst of this crisis, the Church is again enduring its Calvary. So many of our churches have been bombed, desecrated or damaged, priests and laypeople arrested, tortured, killed, church NGOs restricted or targeted.”

“If we have love for one another, that will give us hope. If we have love for our communities, our countries, our brothers and sisters in humanity, our values, our goals, we will not lose hope.”

The outspoken cardinal slammed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as it was “unprovoked, unjustified, unjustifiable and inhumane.”

“Peace, dialogue, reconciliation can only be achieved when wrongs are acknowledged, truth is upheld and those responsible for terrible crimes — atrocity crimes — are held accountable and justice is done,” Cardinal Bo said.

 “If we are to be agents of hope in times of crisis, we cannot only be about words. We must also be about action.” – UCA News