Valerie meets with Cardinal Bo at the House of Commons

I met with His Eminence Cardinal Charles Maung Bo to discuss the future of Burma. His visit comes at a pivotal time for Burma and allowed us to discuss Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy election victory, the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, and the ongoing peace process. Together with Canon Fr Anthony Dwyer, Fr Dominic from Burma , and Ben Rogers from Christian Solidarity Worldwide we had a lunchtime discussion.


His Eminence Cardinal Charles Maung Bo Archbishop of Yangon (Rangoon) since 2003, became Burma/Myanmar’s first ever Cardinal in 2015, and has long been one of the most outspoken voices for human rights, religious freedom, inter-religious harmony, peace and justice in the country. Upon his appointment as Cardinal, he told the media, “I want to be a voice for the voiceless”. A profile in La Stampa headlined ‘The cardinal who brings poetry to the faith’ described him as one who “speaks like a poet but his evangelical message covers the economy, society and politics”. Cardinal Bo has played a key role in his country’s struggle for freedom. In his Easter message in 2014, he said “The task of Christians is to move fences, to tear down walls.” His country, he said, has been through “our way of the Cross for the last five decades”. A nation “was crucified and left to hang on the cross of humanity. We were a Good Friday people. Easter was a distant dream”. But today, he adds, “We are an Easter people. There are streaks of hope today.” In his Christmas homily the same year, he said, “Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid to seek your rights to dignity. Do not be afraid to dream, to reimagine a new [Burma/Myanmar] where justice and righteousness flow like a river.”


Ordained a priest of the Salesians of Don Bosco in 1976, he became Bishop of Lashio in 1990 and subsequently served as Bishop of Pathein and as Apostolic Administrator of Mandalay Archbiocese. In December 2015 he celebrated his 25th Episcopal Jubilee. His motto is ‘Omnia Possum in Eo’ (Philippians 4:13).


Cardinal Bo is Chairman of the Office of Human Development in the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, a member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, and since 2015 a member of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and the Pontifical Council for Culture. In January 2016 he served as the Papal Legate at the International Eucharistic Congress.


His Eminence is visiting the United Kingdom as a guest of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Missio, Aid to the Church in Need and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and in Scotland as a guest of these organisations and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.


“We Shall not keep silence. For the sake of the people of Myanmar, her poor, her ethnic communities, her displaced sons and daughter and those unfortunate victims of human trafficking. We shall not keep silence.”