Myanmar’s Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, right, is seen here in this January 31, 2016 file photo. (Photo by AFP)
With Myanmar facing genocide charges in the international court, its top Catholic leader has sought global understanding in order to avoid sanctions against the Buddhist-majority nation.Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon in his Christmas message, called on the international community "to accompany this nation and fledgling democracy with understanding and advice, not condemnation."Any international sanctions against Myanmar "without consideration for the welfare of ordinary people will be a sad commentary on the world's concern for our people, and a sad commentary on the message of Christmas," the cardinal warned.The 72-year cardinal's appeal followed Aung San Suu Kyi's defense of alleged Myanmar military atrocities against the country's Rohingya Muslim minority at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague on Dec. 11-12.The Gambia, a tiny West African nation, took Myanmar to the international court on genocide charges following military crackdowns in 2016 and 2017 that allegedly killed hundreds of Rohingya people.
It resulted in more than a million Rohingya people fleeing the country, which the United Nations called "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing."Cardinal Bo said "more than at any time in history, Myanmar stands at the crossroads of history today, seeking peace and reconciliation.'He said Myanmar is "known in the world for the wrong reasons, and is being dragged to the international court. Big words are used against this country."However, the cardinal also called on Myanmar "to understand the world's concerns about the suffering of people" within its borders.Christmas calls for "conversion and repentance. Conversion from hatred, repentance from all kinds of sins committed against God or fellow human beings," he said.The prelate, also president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, said Myanmar was facing the challenges of "chronic wars, huge displacement, the unsafe migration of thousands of our youth, climate change and the need for reconciliation among various peoples."The cardinal concluded his Christmas message, stressing the need for peace. "Peace is possible. Peace is the only way. Peace to all men and women of goodwill."
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