ASIA/MYANMAR - Catholics: "After the Pope's visit, it is up to us to build peace and justice"

Yangon - "The journey of Pope Francis now leaves a clearer role and responsibility to the Catholic community in Myanmar: to give, in the spirit of the Gospel, a contribution to peace, justice, development and education in our beloved country. Now it is our turn. We are aware of living in a historical phase of transition, even delicate. We must be patient, since the processes initiated, including the democratic one, are slow.
We must take a gradual approach and proceed step by step, without forcing our hand": says to Agenzia Fides Bishop Raymond Saw Po Ray, who is at the head of the diocese of Mawlamyine and president of the "Justice and Peace" Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar, expressing the spirit that today the Burmese Catholic community lives.
The Bishop notes: "Pope Francis’ visit has allowed the Burmese people to better understand who the Pope really is and to get to know the Catholic Church better. I almost have the impression that his presence in three days has done more than a history of centuries. And then he allowed us to understand the difference between Catholics and Christians of other denominations, sometimes difficult to underline in a country with a Buddhist majority".
"His presence was a great encouragement for the Catholic community in Burma: we are truly happy, comforted, strengthened in faith. It was something we would never have expected: truly a great gift from God", he continues. "Even the Buddhists greatly appreciated the Pope’s humility, simplicity, towards others and dialogue with everyone. His journey will also have a positive effect on the life of the Catholic Church in Burma", observes Mgr. Saw Po Ray.
The Bishop of Mawlamyine points out that "the theme of reconciliation with ethnic minorities is very important: even Christian minorities, like the Kachin, felt the Pope's closeness and it was clear that the cause of conflicts with minorities is not the religious factor. With regards to the Rohingya case, today there is a new perspective in the nation. At the center there is respect for human dignity and we all hope that, with good will, we can start the process to allow refugees to return. Of course, we must free ourselves from political or mass media manipulations and even strong international pressures can sometimes have a negative effect on our country. I believe that the key is the message the Pope left us: to heal the wounds of the nation, to work and walk together for the good of the country. From here we can start again. As Christians let us continue to pray and to act, in the spirit of the Gospel, to build a horizon of peace and justice in our beloved nation".