Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Myanmar Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Myanmar 

Myanmar's Cardinal Bo: In wounded world, let us kneel in solidarity

This Holy Week, the President of the Myanmar Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, urges the faithful to join together in praying for peace to 'stop the turmoil of war,' and encourages people of good will to welcome Pope Francis' calls for dialogue and reconciliation.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, is appealing for faithful to fervently pray together and work toward peace "in this wounded world."

In a message sent to Vatican News ahead of Easter, the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Myanmar implores Almighty God to dispel the darkness of conflict and usher in a new dawn of hope and harmony.

Bearing the title, "Embracing the dawn of peace," the Cardinal's message acknowledges the wars plaguing the planet, especially in the Holy Land, Ukraine, and in his own Myanmar, and urges humanity to welcome Pope Francis' calls for dialogue and reconciliation "as the foundations of our collective call for peace."

The Cardinal went on to reflect on the Paschal Mystery. "Faced with the conflicts and problems that the world experiences today," he said, "we must revive our hope by trusting in the Risen Christ, who conquered death and gave us true life."

This hope, he said, "generates light to life, overcomes discouragement, generates solidarity" and "counteracts all the seeds of violence that a culture of indifference and confrontation, sow in our societies and prepare the ground for wars."

"Together," he said, "let the world pledge to transform instruments of war into tools of peace, and all fears into unwavering trust."

He concluded by praying, "Let our words echo the universal language of fraternity, and may our actions be guided by the pursuit of peace."

Pope's closeness to Myanmar

Pope Francis, who visited both Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2017, has raised his voice repeatedly against the suffering of Rohingya refugees.

The Rohingya, who have been denied citizenship in Myanmar since 1982, making them stateless, have been described as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, and over the course of many decades have fled to neighbouring countries either by land or boat.

The military coup in Myanmar on 2 February 2021 further heightened their vulnerability.

Focusing on Myanmar at the 28 January Angelus, Pope Francis appealed for the facilitation of humanitarian aid, urging everyone to pursue paths of dialogue. "For three years now," he said, "the cry of pain and the din of weapons have taken the place of the smile that characterises the people of Myanmar."

He joined his voice with that of Burmese Bishops to pray that "the weapons of destruction may be transformed into instruments to grow in humanity and justice."

One-third of the population in desperate need

The humanitarian crisis in Myanmar is continually worsening, and the civilian population is continually growing more fearful.

This is reflected in the number of internally displaced people growing rapidly, reported Fides.

According to recent figures, more than 2.6 million people across the country have fled their homes.

Meanwhile, overall 18.6 million people, which constitutes about one-third of the nation's population, are in great need of humanitarian assistance.

Growing inflation in the nation continues to make it harder for people to buy food, fuel, and other basic goods.

With the healthcare system in the country having virtually collapsed, one-quarter of the population is combatting disease and starvation.

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26 March 2024, 12:47