from Cardinal Charles Maung Bo  – Yangon, Myanmar


Peace to all people of Good Will

Dear  Brothers and Sisters in Myanmar,

Merry Christmas.  May the message of Incarnation fills you with Joy. 

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light (Is 9:1)

We have every reason to  celebrate  with the angels who  sang :  JOY TO THE  WORLD. We know very well that it is God who initiated Christmas and the Love of God is the only reason that made Christmas happen. “For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16) God did this while we were still sinners (cfr. Rom 5:8). The light of God’s love shines in the darkness of humanity’s selfishness and lead them to perfect love.

 Those who live in darkness do not realize that they are in darkness unless  they see the light that shines upon them. In the Christmas story we see poor and lowly shepherd who were filled with joy as they see the light of Christmas. However, there is also Herod who was filled with hatred and the desire to destroy. Naturally, there are people who come out into the light yet there are also people who clings to darkness. This reminds us that Christmas is not mere external celebrations and holidays but a challenge. It is also an invitation to come out of our darkness and live in the light of Christmas. Let us welcome this light so that our heart may truly be filled with joy.

With the general election of 8th November, our nation sees the dawn of change. It is up to us to allow it to be a bright day light. Naturally, it is impossible to get a unanimous choice in the election. Although the majority wins in the election the minority cannot be excluded in the nation building. We must overcome the competitions and differences. This year is a year of blessing to each one of you,  my brothers and sisters.  This is a great time to be in this country.   By  reconciling with one another, forgetting all the past  darkness of hatred, we can make Christ’s message of Peace  possible to all people of Good Will.  So we call upon all men and women of good will, bring the great message of peace and prosperity to this nation.

“Peace to all people of good will” (Lk 2:13)

A good will is a sine qua non for acquiring peace. I wish to commend on  seven sections of the people in Myanmar  whose good will can bring peace with justice to this nation.  Yes  we all can  build a new Myanmar, a Golden Myanmar, a new heaven and new earth ( Rev 21)  in this land if we can synergize  the good will of all of us.  Immanuel is with us and we can work miracles together.

First  of all I congratulate our country men and women.  You have stood together in times of sorrow and darkness.  Now there is dawn.  But our work is not over, it just begins.   Just as the  mystery of Incarnation started  in the simple manger of  Bethlehem  the task of  rebuilding a new nation starts in our  hearts and in our houses.  After long years of  expectation  it is natural to look for quick results but democracy is a process  not a drama that ends with a night of  celebration.  As  Abraham Lincoln  cautioned  democracy is by the people, for the people and of the people.   We may choose our leaders but  democracy is the fruit of our hard labour.  Democracy is a fundamental right. But Catholic Social Teaching always warns us : Every right has a responsibility.  We are  committed to our responsibilities today.

The temptation is to  rush into irrational expectations, protests and even rioting.  There is a time for every thing.   It is wise to listen to President John F Kennedy,   “ Ask not what the country has done for you,  ask what you have done for your country”.    Nation building is the task of all of us. Now that the ballot box has spoken and we have leaders who have  proved to be morally upright, it is our duty to build a nation without war and want.  With Good Will we can and we will do that.

 I call upon all men  and women of good will to  join hands in Myanmar.

  1. The Good will of People of Myanmar

You have spoken unambiguously in the recent election.  When I called for  voting as a ‘pilgrimage of hope’ and requested all of you to vote 80 percent of you voted and voted with responsibility.  Your efforts have brought in a silent revolution.  It is your task now to build peace among communities, never giving into the discourses of hatred. Every man and woman, of any  race or greed belong to this nation.   We the people of Myanmar  come with Good Will to build a nation with peace and prosperity.   Believe in the goodness of all.

All of us by nature are very religious. So, let us base our code of conduct on the teachings of our faith. The authenticity to our religion will bring froth a good will in us.


  1. The Good will of victors in the Election

We congratulate the NLD  who won the election. At the same time we also wish and pray that you may build the nation in spite of enormous challenges that lie in wait.  The people of Myanmar have invested their hopes and future in your fragile hands, knowing that power of empty  hands has ‘sent away the mighty and raised the lowly’.   You have shown your sagacity by  proposing a government of national reconciliation.  Church joins in your Good will  and efforts to bring peace with  justice.


  1. The grace and the good will of those who lost

The world stands in awe at the graceful way the president and the USDP accepted the verdict and welcomed the victors.  For the last five years you have done a lot for this country ensuring that the incremental democracy brings greater inclusiveness.  Your good will  at peaceful  transfer of power is a great example to the world where enormous blood shed is the norm in transfer of power. History will gratefully remember you for your generosity and statesmanship.


  1. The Good will of the Army Generals Present and the Past

We  sincerely believe in the change of heart of the army. From mentality of a junta, the  past and present leadership of the army is  changing into a  guardian of democratic  transition.  Much needs to be done but we are heartened by the good will shown by the present General and the retired Generals in honoring the verdict of the people.  A new Myanmar needs the Army, in its primary role of  protecting the nation from external threats.   The  good will shown to the leader of NLD is a great promise for this nation and we are indebted to your  confidence in the democracy.


  1. The Good will of the religious leaders and religions

In general, religion teaches to  love and care for one another: Karuna and Metta are foundations of religions. As we live virtuous life we are to show love and respect to others. However, the  sad reality is the incidents of conflicts and wars in the name of religion. Myanmar’s future  depends on the positive role of the religious  leaders.  All attempts to abuse religion for political  purposes need to be resisted by all religions and religious leaders. The good will of religion is the capacity to live in harmony with different faith and religion.


  1. The Good will of all tribes and nationalities

Myanmar is a nation which is comprised of different tribes. This image of our nation must be safe guarded by all means. Myanmar has to solve its identity crisis which has dragged the country into chronic wars and displacement. After sixty years of ‘independence’ we  are a bleeding nation.   Peace has its dividends  for all.  We call upon all tribes and nationalities to engage in peaceful negotiations for durable peace.  In good will we all shall explore the  federal solution to our problems. However, peace cannot be build just on the papers. Peace can be achieved only with our good will and sincere hearts.


  1. The Good will of the Church

Church is one of the few organizations in the country that is really ‘national’ in character. It is found in every tribe and every race and nationality.  This  privilege  comes with great responsibility. With its good will, Church is called upon to stand with the most marginalized, as Pope  Francis calls forth persistently.  Church is here to ensure that democracy is inclusive, targeted towards the most vulnerable.   We assure the rulers  Church is your trusted partner in  nation building.  We know the poor. We are a poor church for the poor.  Our accompaniment is vital for their dignity.

This nation is a wounded nation, ‘not in place for judgment’ (Pope Francis).  This is  a time for healing not vengeance.  It is a time for forgiveness.  It is a time for national reconciliation.  It is a time for uplifting the most neglected.  We are at the cross roads.  Death and Life stare at our face. Let us choose  life.  “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you may live” (Deut : 30:19).

 Our task of nation building in a new Myanmar is huge. But  the dream of a new world started in the  humble manger of Bethlehem with a poor carpenter’s family who had ‘ no place  for their son’.   Faith can move mountains.  Together  with Good Will  we the people of Myanmar can move mountains and reach our promised land of justice, peace and prosperity. 



Cardinal Charles Bo, SDB

Archbishop of Yangon