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Pope in Myanmar: Father Marian Soe Naing (Bishops’ spokesman), “reconciliation, forgiveness and peace: these will be the key points”

Sede della Conferenza episcopale a Yangon


(from Yangon) – “Reconciliation, forgiveness, peace: these will be the key points of the message that the Pope will take to Myanmar”. This is according to Father Mariano Soe Naing, spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar, interviewed by SIR news agency about the highlights of the Pope’s trip to Myanmar, from 27 to 30 November. The Pope will land in Yangon and, the following day, he will be welcomed in the capital Nay Pyi Taw by the President of the Republic and the leader of the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi. The International Convention Centre will be the venue for the welcome ceremony and the first public address of the Pope (who will always speak in Italian, with translation into the local language). There is a lot of expectation: representatives of the Government and the Diplomatic Corps will be listening to him. “700 to 800 people in total”, Fr. Mariano said, calling this meeting one of the “highlights of the journey”. And he went on to explain: “The country is going through a period of transition which, as such, is extremely delicate, difficult and still unfolding. The Pope is expected to deliver a message of encouragement to continue on the path of democratic construction of the country”. “We have all suffered a lot – the Bishops’ spokesman said – and the Pope will address the country as a whole. Myanmar is a country that wants to grow today. Most of all, it wants to continue to advance in the process of change and transformation”. Another highlight will be the meeting, on 29 November at 4.15pm, with the Supreme “Sangha” Council of Buddhist Monks at the Kaba Aye Centre (which means: world peace centre). There will be two speeches: one by the Holy Father and one by the monk leading the Supreme Council. Relations between Catholics and Buddhists are very good here, even thanks to “the friendly character of the Buddhist people”. This meeting – the spokesman went on to say – is meant to “reiterate that Catholics have respect for Buddhism, and that the future of this country is built on mutual respect between different religious traditions and ethnic groups”. Sixty-nine journalists will be travelling on board the papal plane. Another 200 will be covering the events after landing and the Bishops’ Conference has set up a press office for them at the Shangri-La Hotel in Yangon. The first press conference for the presentation of the journey will be held at that venue on 27 November, at 9am, with the participation of John Saw Yaw Han, Auxiliary Bishop of Yangon and local organizer of the apostolic journey



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