Myanmar Cardinal misses friend Jala

Call to fight against poverty & cultural indifference

SHILLONG: Cardinal of Myanmar Charles Bo had expected to meet late Archbishop Dominic Jala, who had invited him to attend the Eucharistic procession on Sunday, but the latter’s sudden demise in an accident in the U.S. on October 10 dashed all such hope.
Speaking to a section of reporters on Sunday evening, he said, “We (the late Archbishop and Charles) met often when the Salesian Bishops gathered together. We met 10 days before the accident and I thought we would meet today (Sunday)… we are Salesians and we knew each other very well”.
Earlier, he had told the gathering of the faithful that Archbishop Jala was deeply concerned about the poor and the downtrodden and he had worked very hard to improve their living condition.
Charles was the main celebrant at the Holy Mass which began at 10 am.
During the sermon, the Cardinal informed that in one of the mega meetings that he had participated in the Philippines, he had made an ardent appeal to start the “Third World War”, of course not in the literal sense, but in the fight against poverty, starvation and cultural indifference.
He informed that it is painful to note that people are suffering from poverty and die from starvation.
Cardinal Bo said Christ broke the bread only once at the Last Supper and during the last three years of his active ministry, he spent his life doing good by helping the poor and the needy besides curing the sick, the lame and the blind.
“During the Last Supper, Lord Jesus said, ‘Do this in remembrance of me’, meaning that Christian life should be seen in action”, the Cardinal said.
The Cardinal termed the Eucharist as a symbol of unity among the believers, where there is no rich or poor and everyone can partake in it.
Later, the 72-year-old Cardinal said it is his first visit to this part of India although he has been to other parts of the country many times.
“I feel very much at home and appreciate the warmth and hospitality of the people. Also this morning, I saw the piety, devotion and how the faithful cling to God and they have God in their hearts and it is good for the future”, he said adding that it is encouraging to see that parents are teaching children to continue the mission work especially for the Church.
Speaking about Myanmar, he said Buddhists constitute around 85-88 per cent of the population while the Christians altogether would be about 6 per cent with the Catholic population accounting for 1.3 per cent.
“There are 800 priests and 16 dioceses although we are a small number compared to the Buddhist community, but our presence has been there in the 16 dioceses especially in the ethnic areas”, Charles said.
He said the Catholic Church in Myanmar is very much respected by the government as well as the military, the different Buddhist communities, Muslims and Hindus.
Commenting on mission work in Myanmar, he said the Catholic Church sent two priests to New Zealand just recently and other dioceses had also sent priests to America, England and even to Solomon Islands.
Charles pointed to active involvement of the Church in Myanmar in bringing about peace and reconciliation as the country struggles with armed insurgency.
Role of negotiator
He added, “We try to negotiate especially in peace-building because in Myanmar we are still in a very complex situation of an armed group that fights against the government. We try our best to negotiate and bring reconciliation but we still have problems and have a lot of work to do especially in peace and nation-building. It is only 5-6 years ago that democracy began to grow and we still have a long way to go”.
When asked whether insurgent groups from the North East are present in Myanmar, the Cardinal said people often hear of Chin insurgents but there is nothing in reality.
On religious persecution, he said, “I have not noticed any persecution. Because of democracy now they give equal opportunities to Christians, Buddhists and other people”.
Commenting on religious persecution in other parts of the world, he said the Catholic church respects other beliefs and added, “Differences are to be celebrated….it is unity in diversity, nobody can just cling to nationalism and one faith and try to discard the others, otherwise we will never have peace in the world”.
Faithful brave rain
Earlier, the faithful belonging to the Catholic Church of Shillong Archdiocese took part in the concelebrated Mass at Calvary in Laitumkhrah to mark the annual Eucharistic procession of the Archdiocese.
Despite the inclement weather, there was a large gathering of the faithful. Besides the Cardinal of Myanmar, four bishops of the North East, including Victor Lyngdoh and Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, and several priests were present. This was followed by the Eucharistic procession starting from 1.30 pm.
The procession concluded with the benediction at Calvary in front of the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians.

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