However, despite the win, she is still barred from officially becoming president, and holds the title of “State Counsellor” and Foreign Minister, while a close associate is acting as president. The military also still wields considerable political authority, including the appointment of cabinet ministers, and one-quarter of the nation’s legislature, making the ongoing transition rocky.
In his speech to Aung San Suu Kyi, civil authorities and the diplomatic corps in Burma, Pope Francis praised the efforts of all those working to build “a just, reconciled and inclusive social order” in the country.
While Burma is known for its beauty and natural resources, the nation's greatest treasure are its people, he said, noting that they have suffered and continue to suffer from civil hostilities “that have lasted all too long and created deep divisions.”
“As the nation now works to restore peace, the healing of those wounds must be a paramount political and spiritual priority,” he said.
To this end, Francis said the country's various religious traditions and its youth will have key roles to play in working toward national reconciliation and building a better, more just future.
Religious differences in Burma, a majority Buddhist country, “need not be a source of division and distrust, but rather a force for unity, forgiveness, tolerance and wise nation-building,” he said, adding that religions can play an important role in healing the emotional, spiritual and psychological wounds of years of unrest.
“They can help to uproot the causes of conflict, build bridges of dialogue, seek justice and be a prophetic voice for all who suffer,” he said, and pointed to current joint efforts among religions to work together in peace efforts through education, assistance to the poor and in promoting human values.
By seeking to build a culture of encounter and solidarity, religions contribute to the common good and lay “the indispensable moral foundations for a future of hope and prosperity for coming generations.”
Youth also have an essential role to play, the Pope said, calling them “a gift to be cherished and encouraged, an investment that will yield a rich return if only they are given real opportunities for employment and quality education.”
This attention to youth is “an urgent requirement of inter-generational justice,” he said, noting that the future of the nation is changing at an increasing pace.
Given these rapid changes, youth will need to be trained not only in the technical field, but also in “the ethical values of honesty, integrity and human solidarity that can ensure the consolidation of democracy and the growth of unity and peace at every level of society,” he said.
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Future generations must also be guaranteed that the natural environment and beauty Burma enjoys is “unspoilt by human greed and depredation,” he said, and stressed the importance of not allowing youth to be “robbed of hope and of the chance to employ their idealism and talents in shaping the future of their country and, indeed, our entire human family.”
Pope Francis closed his speech encouraging fellow Catholics in the country to persevere in faith and to continue spreading a message of “reconciliation and brotherhood” through both charitable and humanitarian works.
“It is my hope that, in respectful cooperation with the followers of other religions, and all men and women of good will, they will help to open a new era of concord and progress for the people of this beloved nation,” he said.
Thanking his audience for their attention and service to the common good, he said “long live Myanmar!” and asked God to bless its leaders with “wisdom, strength and peace.”
In a speech to Pope Francis, Aung San Suu Kyi told the Pope that “you bring us strength and hope in your understanding of our need, our longing, for peace, national reconciliation and social harmony.”
She said his words on justice resonate, and serve as a “reminder that in our quest for peace we must be guided by the wisdom and aspirations of our fathers.”