(Vatican Radio) A prominent Asian Cardinal has hit out against religious intolerance in his home nation, calling it a “poison for society”.
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, the Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, sent the strongly worded message to the “Fides” Agency, which held an event on Saturday to mark the launch of a book entitled “On the Brink” which examines the realities of life for religious minorities in Asian countries.
He said: “Asia is the Mother of the great religions; Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism. But today religious intolerance is a poison for society.” The Cardinal’s criticism was directed not just towards the situation in Myanmar, but also others such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and China.
Allegations of religious intolerance in Myanmar date as far back as the 1988 uprising against the military government. Some reports suggest that members of minority, non-Buddhist, faiths face discrimination from both the government and employers.
"The freedom to believe and follow conscience in determining one's faith is a sacred principle that is violated today in Asia, not only in theocratic society, but also in democratic countries where there are persecutions against minorities,” Cardinal Bo added.
Referring the Second Vatican Council document “Dignitatis Humanae”, the Cardinal explained that the Church in Myanmar continues to be engaged in both inter-religious dialogue and the promotion of peace initiatives, and that freedom of religion is paramount to this work.
“Fides”, which hosted the book-launch, is the information service for the Pontifical Missions Society, the Catholic body which supports overseas missions of the Church.