Cardinal Bo makes inspirational speech at Stonyhurst College
23 May 2016
His Eminence Cardinal Charles Maung Bo visited Stonyhurst College on Saturday 21st May, and delivered an inspiring talk to the students and staff of Stonyhurst College, in which he talked about the role of the Catholic Church and the struggle for religious freedom in his country Burma, or Myanmar.
Cardinal Bo opened his speech noting “a deep appreciation and respect for Jesuit scholarship and learning, and a recognition that Jesuits are the best educators ….You are the future of your community, your country and the world,” he said, “ and I hope you will play your part in shaping a better future for your generation.” He then outlined the political history of Myanmar, its half a century of destructive military rule, and long struggle for democracy. The country’s first credible elections were only held in November 2016 and resulted in Aung Suu Kyi becoming president after 15 long years of house arrest. He outlined how Myanmar still faces great challenges: poverty, education, human trafficking, drugs, protecting freedom of expression, constitutional reform, the economy, health care and a high maternal mortality rate.
However, Cardinal Bo is optimistic about the new road his country is now on. ‘Our journey has not ended; we are simply entering into a new chapter in our continuing struggle for freedom, democracy, human rights, human dignity and peace.’ The Catholic Church is present ‘where the government is not’ and Cardinal Bo says ‘today I say to the Government of Myanmar: give us back our schools, and allow us to contribute to educating our people’.
He finished with a direct address to the students; “As Aung San Suu Kyi has said, ‘please use your liberty to promote ours’. You, young people of Britain and of your different nations, have the future before you; and you have the opportunity, if you choose to take it, to make yourselves available to God, to open your hearts to His Spirit, to place yourselves in His hands and then, together with Him, to make this world a better place”.
After delivering his talk to the students, Cardinal Charles Bo visited Phase Two of the Christian Heritage Centre. One of the curators, Joseph Reed, showed the Cardinal some of the unique collections which are housed in the now refurbished Arundel Library – and which touch on the struggle of English Catholics to sustain their own faith during penal times.
Cardinal Bo also examined venerated relics of English martyrs, such as the writings of the teenage Charles Carroll (later a Catholic signatory to the American Declaration of Independence) and the skull of Cardinal John Morton. He prayed for English Christians that their faith may be strengthened through the knowledge of their story.
The next Phase of the Christian Heritage Centre is the restoration of a ruined mill building which is to be known as Theodore House and which will be used for study, Christian leadership formation, and retreat. £2.6 million of the £4 million target has so far been raised. Phase 4 will be a Visitors’ Centre.
Read the full transcript of his speech here: