Archbishop of Yangon Defends Pope
Said Violence and Islam Cannot Co-exist

YANGON, Myanmar, SEPT. 17, 2006 ( Religion cannot justify violence is the message Benedict XVI communicated in his comments on Islam during his trip to Bavaria, says the archbishop of Yangon.

Archbishop Charles Bo of Yangon said in comments to ZENIT that he is "sad to hear the misunderstandings of our brother Muslims" regarding the statements the Holy Father made Tuesday at the University of Regensburg.

The archbishop continued: "Benedict XVI was making a very clear statement, that violence is not compatible with the nature of God. Violence and killing is contrary to the nature of God.

"He was very clear that God is love and love ensures and brings forth life. God is life-giving. That is the fundamental reason why such a respected and highly-acclaimed theologian like the Pope gave such a clear message in his first encyclical 'Deus Caritas Est.'"

"The Pope was speaking in a university, where he chose to repeat that the religious dimension is necessary for all men, and that faith is fundamental to experience fullness of life," Archbishop Bo said.

"The coldness of rationality often yields to a desacralized life -- this is what he was trying to say," he said.

"In this the Pope has fully expressed the sentiment and desire of millions of Muslims who in one way or another, say: 'Violence and Islam cannot be related,'" he added.

The archbishop said that Benedict XVI "said that many Muslims say: 'We are Muslims and we want to be Muslim believers in today's world and against those who use religion to strike at others with violence. Religion cannot be the foundation of a conflict, a war, or any other kind of violence.'"

Some 4% of the population of Myanmar, a country of 47 million inhabitants, is Muslim, the majority being Buddhist.