There was only one moment in which Jesus was named and his Gospel proclaimed, in the speeches on the first day of Pope Francis’s visit to Myanmar.
Only that the one who spoke these words was not the pope, but the Burmese state counsellor and foreign minister Aung San Su Kyi, who is of the Buddhist faith:
“Jesus himself offers a ‘manual’ for this strategy of peacemaking in the Sermon on the Mount. The eight Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-10) provide a portrait of the person we could describe as blessed, good and authentic. Blessed are the meek, Jesus tells us, the merciful and the peacemakers, those who are pure in heart, and those who hunger and thirst for justice.”
“This is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives: to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their respective responsibilities. It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost.”
It is true that San Su Kyi took these words from the message of Francis for the world day of peace on January 1, 2017. But it is striking that the only one to mention the name of Jesus and to make his Gospel resonate should have been she, and not the pope.
The complete text of the speech by the Nobel peace laureate, delivered at the beginning of the meeting between Francis and the authorities and representatives of civil society, can be read on this other page Settimo Cielo:
While this is the speech delivered immediately afterward by Pope Francis, a speech that instead was completely “secular,” except for the final invocation upon those present of “the divine blessings of wisdom, strength and peace”:
Also on the morning of Tuesday, November 28, in meeting with representatives of the various religions present in Myanmar – Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Anglican and Catholic Christians – Francis did not say anything specifically Christian, but instead insisted on the fact that “every confession has its wealth, its traditions to give, to share”; he invoked a “harmony” among the religions in respect for differences; he condemned the “cultural colonization” that presumes to “make all equal” and therefore to “kill humanity”:
And yet, was not a Church that “goes forth,” more “missionary” than ever, precisely the objective that pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio put in first place in the agenda-setting text of his pontificate, the exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium“?
And what could be more “forthgoing” and more “missionary” than a journey of the successor of the apostle Peter to a “periphery” of the world like Myanmar, which remains almost entirely to be evangelized?
(English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.)