03/16/2021, 12.36
MYANMAR
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Card. Bo: End the violence, the military must respect democracy and the people

In a video message for the Day of Prayer for Myanmar, the Archbishop of Yangon calls for the military to take a "step back". “Pray for the leaders of our democracy movement - for Aung San Suu Kyi and her colleagues - and for the leaders of ethnic nationalities and all religious leaders. And pray for General Min Aung Hlaing and for the military, who just as God transformed Saul's heart on the road to Damascus, will change their hearts”.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - May peace, respect for democracy and the will of the people return and there be an end to the repression, may the military take a step back and lower their weapons. This is the invitation to prayer that Card. Charles Bo, archbishop of Yangon and president of Fabc (Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences), addressed March 15, 2021, when Christian Solidarity Worldwide launched a day of prayer and support for Myanmar. The Cardinal spoke in a video that AsiaNews posted on 11 March.

This is the cardinal's speech:

Dear brothers and sisters:

I want to thank you, firstly, from the bottom of my heart for your prayers for Myanmar at this time. Yesterday was officially the annual Global Day of Prayer for Myanmar, and today my friends in CSW have organized this event to bring people together, to reflect on and pray for the people of Myanmar. I cannot be with you ‘live’ due to the time difference, but I am very grateful that you have given me this opportunity to send this message.

Myanmar today is in yet another chapter of darkness, bloodshed and repression. After a decade of reform and opening, in which – despite many challenges and storm clouds along the way – we thought we had glimpsed the sun beginning to rise over our beautiful land and the prospect – however fragile or faltering – of emerging into a new dawn of democracy, freedom, peace and justice, today we have been set back by more than a decade, taken back to the nightmare of military repression, brutality, violence and dictatorship.

Since the coup on 1 February, we have witnessed the amazing courage, commitment and creativity of our people, demonstrating throughout the country in their thousands for many days. They have shown their determination not to allow their hard-won democracy and freedoms, their hopes of peace, to be stolen from them. It was a beautiful sight to see and a great inspiration. The sense of unity and solidarity in diversity – with people of different ethnicities and religions coming together for the same cause – was remarkable.

But that was met with bullets, beatings, bloodshed and grief. So many have been killed or wounded in our streets, and so many thousands have been arrested and disappeared.

And in our ethnic states, including in places where ceasefire agreements had been signed some years ago, the military is once again attacking civilians, displacing thousands and exacerbating a humanitarian crisis that was already in existence but is now even more severe.

Yet in these dark, dark times, we hear the voice of the Lord calling the Church still to be a witness, to be an instrument for justice, peace and reconciliation, to be His hands and feet in providing assistance to the poor and those in fear, to counter hatred with love.

We hear that voice in Isaiah 65: 17-21, the first reading in the liturgy of the Mass in the Catholic Church around the world today. “Thus says the Lord: Now I create new heavens and a new earth, and the past will not be remembered, and will come no more to men’s minds. Be glad and rejoice for ever and ever for what I am creating, because I now create Jerusalem ‘Joy’ and her people ‘Gladness’ …. No more will the sound of weeping or the sound of cries be heard in her; no more will be found the infant living a few days only … They will build houses and inhabit them, plant vineyards and eat their fruit.”

Or the first words of Psalm 29 that we read today: “I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.”

Or today’s Gospel – from St John – which tells the story of the court official whom Jesus met in Cana in Galilee, whose son was ill and asked Jesus to cure him. “Go home,” said Jesus, “your son will live”.

In these three passages we hear that message of hope that is at the heart of our faith – and we, the Church in Myanmar, hold on to that message. We will pray and work for a new Myanmar to be born out of this current tragedy, a Myanmar where truly every human being has an equal stake in the country and equal rights to basic freedoms, a Myanmar where ethnic and religious diversity is celebrated and where we enjoy real peace, a Myanmar where the soldiers put down their guns, step back from power and do what an army is meant to do: defend rather than attack the people. A Myanmar to which God says – as Jesus said to the father of the dying man in the Gospel – “Your son will live. You will live.” A Myanmar that rises again from the ashes.

How do we get there? By faith, prayer, love, dialogue and courage. By speaking out for truth, justice, freedom, peace and democracy.

And so we need your prayers now more than ever.

Please pray for this vision for Myanmar.

Pray for those who right now are in danger, in hiding, displaced, imprisoned, wounded or grieving.

Pray for the leaders of our democracy movement – for Aung San Suu Kyi and her colleagues – and for the leaders of the ethnic nationalities and all religious leaders.

And pray for General Min Aung Hlaing and the military, that just as God turned the heart of Saul on the Road to Damascus, He would change their hearts, make them stand back and prevent them from taking Myanmar further down a path of conflict, repression and destruction.

Pray – even now, after all we have been through in the past six weeks – for the results of the elections, in which the will of the people was expressed so clearly, to be respected, and for Myanmar to move to a path of genuine democracy, accompanied by dialogue, reconciliation, justice and peace.

Pray that as Myanmar yet again is taken during this Lenten season down a real-life journey of Calvary and Golgotha, a journey we have made throughout so much of the past seven decades, we might still as a nation see our resurrection, our Easter, before too long.

May God bless you.

 

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