Burmese Buddhist nationalists have been targeting Muslim groups

Burma’s first Catholic cardinal has said that he will make religious tolerance a priority.

Cardinal-designate Charles Maung Bo has said that he will work towards peace and reconciliation between the country’s different religious groups.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the cardinal-designate said: “I want to be a voice for the voiceless. I want to speak more on behalf of the marginalised and the poor, who have no privileges and facilities.”

Maung Bo also told Reuters about the threat of religious extremism against reform the country since the end of military rule. He expressed fears about Buddhist nationalism directed against minority Muslims. He said: “So far they have been more on the quiet side, but if they come with the force of an international community of Muslims, then violence, terrorism, suicide bombers and all these things could happen.”

He added: “We hope that chaos won’t happen” and called on the military to build more trust between armed ethnic groups.

Catholics make up about 1.6 per cent of the country’s population where tensions simmer between Muslims and Buddhists.