Myanmar’s Cardinal Charles Maung Bo described the Synod of Synodality as “a long march of hope for all humanity” during a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday.
The cardinal, who serves as the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, said that many Catholics across Asia are enduring the painful reality of the “Way of the Cross.”
“We pray that the Catholic Church, under the leadership of Pope Francis, will bring the entire human family into the long march of healing our world and our planet, ultimately leading us to a new heaven and a new earth,” Bo said in St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 23.
As the archbishop of Yangon, Bo has been a leading voice in the Catholic Church in Myanmar for more than two decades, speaking out for human rights after the military coup in 2021.
“Nowhere in Asia is the Christian faith journey more challenged than in Myanmar. Our small flock is currently scattered due to both natural disasters and manmade crises, causing multidimensional crises and immense suffering. … Homes have vanished, and churches have borne the brunt of cruelty,” he said at the synod Mass.
Bo told the synod delegates that just as the faithful women followed Jesus to the cross, so too does the Church in Asia “continue our tear-filled synodal journey, believing that, like those women, we will see all wounds healed, and a new dawn of hope, peace, and justice will shine upon every long-suffering nation.”
During the prayers of the faithful at the Mass, the congregation prayed for the Church in mainland China that it “may increasingly preserve and celebrate the communion of love and life with the universal Church.”
Prayers were also offered for the Church in Myanmar as it “strives for democracy, rule of law, and that all forms of violence will end.”
In his homily, Bo underlined that “one of the grave concerns” during the synod is “the legacy we will leave for the next generation.”
“The environment has been borrowed from the young, and the inheritance due to them, a more peaceful world with the integrity of creation intact, is in jeopardy,” he said. “Global warming has devastated communities and the livelihoods of millions, threatening to slip away from the next generation.”
The cardinal added that bishops in Asia are “acutely aware of the environmental damage inflicted upon our region due to climate-driven disasters.”
“Our faith journey in Asia is not without difficulties, but this synodal gathering has energized us to return to the great days of evangelization by the Apostles,” Bo said.
“We embrace the call for Asia to become ‘the 21st century for Christ’ with optimism, inspired by the global Church’s synodal journey.”
The Mass was the last of four synod liturgies in St. Peter’s Basilica presided over by Church leaders from different regions of the world, including Lithuanian-American Archbishop Gintaras Grušas, Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, and Patriarch Youssef Absi, the Greek Melkite Patriarch of Antioch.