Charles Maung Bo
will become the first Burmese cardinal to visit Australia on June 9 when the human rights advocate will deliver lectures on peace and faith during a three-city swing through Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. The trip is tied to a fund-raising initiative as he will be traveling as a guest of the Catholic Mission, which is helping to raise money for nation-building education programs backed by Cardinal Bo in his homeland. Myanmar's first-ever cardinal is due to speak at a public Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney on June 10. He will also visit the Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary in Perth and is expected to liaise with Burmese communities in all three cities. Cardinal Bo is known as a staunch campaigner for reconciliation in Myanmar, where peace negotiations with ethnic armed militias are ongoing and the Rohingya refugee crisis
is still being settled. He has defended State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi as she tries to foster democracy by working with the military, despite calls for her to be stripped of her Nobel prize for staying silent about the persecution of the Rohingya. "Cardinal Bo is a remarkable leader who has toiled relentlessly for peace and reconciliation in Myanmar," said Father Brian Lucas, the national director of the Catholic Mission. "Often he has battled invisible forces and risked a great deal to do so," he added. "For the past year, much of the mainstream media coverage of Myanmar has focused on issues in Rakhine State. Cardinal Bo has been one of the strongest advocates for a peaceful resolution to all conflict in his country, primarily through inter-religious dialogue." When Pope Francis
visited Myanmar in November 2017, Cardinal Bo greeted him and asked him to refrain from using the word "Rohingya" during his trip so as not to incite anti-Muslim demonstrations. The pontiff waited until he moved on to neighboring Bangladesh before mentioning the word in public. Cardinal Bo, who was named archbishop of Yangon in 2013, met the pontiff again this May in Rome during a pilgrimage with other Myanmar bishops. He asked Pope Francis to help organize an international conference with the United Nations to find ways of helping the Rohingya and other ethnic groups.