On Friday May 13th, the Feast of St. Mary Mazzarello, both Aid To The Church In Need (ACN) and Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) jointly hosted an audience with H.E. Cardinal Charles Maung Bo who, in addition to being a Salesian, is also the Archbishop of Yangon (Rangoon) and the first ethnic Burman to be a Cardinal.
A long-term friend of both ACN and CSW, Cardinal Bo spoke to parishioners and visitors in the hall of St. Joseph's Catholic parish in New Malden. The Cardinal spoke passionately about the issues facing Myanmar (Burma) at the moment. Despite the positive move towards an elected civilian government, the government of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy must still face the problems that have hampered development in his country for five decades, viz. poverty, discrimination, ethnic tension, a lack of investment, education and freedom of religion.
Nevertheless, the Cardinal spoke about his hope for the future of his nation, and his desire that the future will see greater personal and social freedoms for all citizens of Burma, regardless of ethnic background, race or creed; one example he gave was the encouraging fact that one of the two Vice-Presidents is an ethnic Chin Christian. Cardinal Bo's desire for human rights, inter-faith harmony and freedom of religion, worship and belief were leitmotivs in his address.
Fr. Marco, representing Salesian School Chertsey and the Salesian Community Chertsey, was also joined by parishioners from the Salesian parish of St. Anne's Chertsey in what proved to be an event that was both informative and inspiring.