UCA News

Vatican City

Pope Francis, Suu Kyi meet, launch diplomatic relations

The Vatican announced that the pope would appoint a nuncio and that Myanmar would name an ambassador

Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Updated: May 04, 2017 02:24 PM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Pope Francis, Suu Kyi meet, launch diplomatic relations

Myanmar's State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi meets Pope Francis during a private audience on May 4, 2017 at the Vatican. The Vatican and Myanmar formally agreed to establish full diplomatic relations, the Vatican announced, confirming an accord that is the latest step in the Southeast Asian state's rehabilitation by the international community. (Photo by AFP)

Share this article :
Shortly after Pope Francis met privately with Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Holy See and Myanmar announced they were establishing full diplomatic relations.

The Vatican announced May 4 that the pope would appoint a nuncio to the southeast Asian nation and that Myanmar would name an ambassador to the Vatican. The agreement brings to 183 the number of countries with which the Holy See has full diplomatic relations.

Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, had spent almost 15 years of the period between 1989 and 2010 under house arrest. Her party, the National League for Democracy, won the general election in 2015 and she was named the de facto head of government in April 2016.

Welcomed to the Vatican by Pope Francis, Suu Kyi took his hand and bowed her head. She and the pope met privately for more than 20 minutes before her entourage entered the papal library.

She gave Pope Francis a small bas relief of a dove and Pope Francis gave her a new medallion illustrating a passage from the Book of Isaiah, "The wilderness will become a fruitful field."

"The dry thorny branch that blossoms and bears fruit symbolizes the passage from selfishness to sharing, from war to peace," said a Vatican description of the medallion.

Suu Kyi has won international support for her efforts to shore up Myanmar's fledgling democracy after decades of military rule, but serious questions have been raised about her government's treatment of the Rohingya people, who are Muslim.

Pope Francis has appealed for their protection on several occasions. At a general audience Feb. 18, the pope said the Rohingya "are good people. They are our brothers and sisters. They have been suffering for years. They have been tortured, killed, just because they want to keep their traditions and their Muslim faith."

The 2017 annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom labeled Myanmar one of 16 "Tier 1" countries of particular concern based on their level of religious repression.

According to the Vatican's latest statistics, Myanmar has about 659,000 Catholics out of a population of about 51 million.

Source: Catholic News Service

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
 
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM

Publisher

Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."