Budapest (Agenzia Fides) - "The Catholic Church in Myanmar had been tested through its patience. Our people are lovers of art and culture and very religious. But our people have faced seven decades of great challenges. In recent months: conflicts, Covid, economic collapse and climate disasters. Catholics have suffered a lot. Our churches have been attacked. Many of our people are refugees in our own land": this is what Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon and President of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) highlighted during the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, taking place in Budapest from September, 5 to 12, 2021.
The Cardinal said to the Assembly: "I come from a distant land, a small country in the vast continent of Asia, Myanmar. My country, formerly known as Burma, is located in Southeast Asia with a population of 55 million. It is rich in cultures with more than 135 ethnic groups who live together and is often called the 'rainbow nation'. Most of the people in Myanmar are Buddhists. As in most Asian countries, Christianity is also a minority religion in Myanmar. However, we have a very lively and young Christian community that continues to grow in number. Myanmar is blessed with many vocations to the priesthood and religious life". The Prelate recalled that "Pope Francis has a special love for this land. In 2017, to the surprise of the whole world, he chose our country, with just 700,000 Catholics, for his apostolic pilgrimage of peace. He came to visit the people who are on the sidelines. After the recent political unrest, Pope Francis has spoken seven times in support of the suffering people, he celebrated a special Mass for Myanmar in the Vatican". In the present difficulties that the country is experiencing, the Cardinal asked the Catholic faithful throughout the world for "intense prayers for my people", underlining that the Burmese faithful "need you, your prayers". Called to hold a catechesis on the virtue of patience on September 8th, Cardinal Bo cited the example of "Mary who unties knots" as a "good example of patience", remarking that "redemption takes place through the patience of Maria". Referring then to the pandemic, the Prelate noted that "the subject of patience is painfully current today. Covid has closed our churches, making the celebration of the Eucharist a very great challenge. Our human sensitivity is wounded by this virus. Our patience is tested". However, he continued, "this happened because of our patience, which St. Paul calls the gift of the Holy Spirit. COVID-19 urges us to rekindle our faith to see God's intervention in overcoming the disastrous effect of the coronavirus (Psalm 91)".
"Covid - he said - robbed us of our Sunday Communion, Eucharist, the source and summit of our spiritual life. It did bring spiritual and emotional challenges. But through this darkness, the Lord has worked to rebuild us to have patience amidst this existential threat. We have understood the gift of each other, the gift of life, the gift of faith. We are reborn into a new reality of gratitude. We have learned that life is so precious, each of us is so precious. We are the image of God".
Finally Cardinal Bo defined the Eucharist as "Divine Patience", stating: "All the time, Jesus waits. Wait until the moment we have the same attitude he has for us. And when we do, in that moment, he reveals himself to us. Our eyes are opened and our life becomes a journey of Emmaus with the Lord". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 10/9/2021)