Pope Francis met with 17 leaders of Myanmar’s religious communities Tuesday morning, exhorting them that peace consists in unity in diversity, not in uniformity. The Pope met leaders of Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Catholic and other Christian communities at the Archbishop’s House in Yangon, at the start of his first full day of his Nov. 27-30 apostolic visit to Myanmar.
The Holy See’s spokesman, Greg Burke said that the during his 40-minute meeting with them, the Pope urged them to work together to rebuild the country and that if they argue, they should argue like brothers, who reconcile afterwards.
Unity is not uniformity
After various leaders spoke, Pope Francis spoke off-hand in Spanish helped by an interpreter. Alluding to the Psalms, he said, “ How beautiful it is to see brothers united!” He explained that being united does not mean being equal. “Unity is not uniformity, even within a religious community. Each one has his values, his riches as also shortcomings,” the Pope said, adding, “we are all different.” Each confession has its riches and traditions to give and share. And this can happen only if all live in peace. “Peace,” the Pope stressed, “consists in a chorus of differences.” “Unity comes about in differences.”
“Peace is harmony,” the Pope said, noting that there is a trend in the world towards uniformity to make everybody equal. But he denounced this as a “cultural colonization” that “kills humanity.” He said religious leaders should understand the richness of our differences – ethnic, religious or popular – and what results from these differences is dialogue. “As brothers, we can learn from these differences,” the Pope stressed, exhorting the religious leaders to “build the country, which is so rich and diverse even geographically.”
Nature in Myanmar is very rich in differences, the Pope said, urging them not be afraid of differences. “Since we have one Father and we are all brothers, let us be brothers,” the Pope urged. And if they have to debate among themselves, let it be as brothers, which will soon bring about reconciliation and peace. “Build peace without allowing yourselves be made uniform by the colonization of cultures,” the Pope appealed. “One builds true divine harmony through differences. Differences are a richness for peace,” the Pope added.