11/26/2017, 13.48
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Pope Francis in Yangon, 'Hope and Confidence' for Kachin pilgrims marked by war

by Paolo Fossati

Kachin Women: "With the blessing of the Pope, the difficulties that afflict our lands will disappear. The future will be better. " Leader of a Village: "The Holy Father will bring peace to Kachin and all of Myanmar." Pilgrims include also Protestant Baptists. From our correspondent on the ground

Yangon (AsiaNews) - Hope: This is what the pilgrims who crowd St. Anthony's Parish in Yangon this morning ask Pope Francis to bring with this Apostolic Journey.

These pilgrims who have come from the north after days of walking ask for little in the way of hospitality: a mat or blanket lying on the ground, arranged neatly on the floor of the parish buildings and outside the church (photo 3). Women and men are separated. They are mostly Kachin, but there are also Chin and even some Protestant Baptists. "With the blessing of the Pope, the difficulties that afflict our lands will disappear - some women say (photo 1) - The future will be better and there will be peace." The  Kachin men and women are certain that Pope Francis will speak of their situation to the world that his words will help all the displaced people in the north of Myanmar.

The Kachin are one of the ethnic groups who have for years been locked in a civil war between the Burmese army and the small but courageous local army defending their land and their waters from expropriation and exploitation. Tensions have created hundreds of thousands of refugees or displaced persons.

The church of St. Anthony, which serves 7,500 parishioners, has already welcomed 3,500. Parish priest Sein Htun has arranged two morning meals for them, while in the afternoon the pilgrims will all recite the rosary together and in the evening they will meet for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. "Meeting the Holy Father gives them confidence in the future," says the priest.

Maran Bawk naw (photo 2), a Catholic leader in the village of Edin and head of a delegation of 120 faithful, says sitting among his own: "The civil war has brought our economy to its knees. This has also had repercussions on our church life. Donations are almost impossible and it is difficult to help all of our brothers. We are here to receive the blessing of the Holy Father, who will bring peace to Kachin, but also throughout Myanmar. "

Hope is waiting for the 2,500 pilgrims who have found hospitality in the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul. The church, built eight years ago thanks to funds from French priests, has an unusual shape: it represents a drum and a flute, traditional instruments of the Kharen people. The lodges for pilgrims here are divided into diocese: Kalay, Loikaw, Mandalay, Kalay, Pekhon, Kengtung and many others. Inside the church, some young people prepare floral decorations on the altar. Outside, Sister Christin Hkaun Htoi and some Kachin young people (photo 4) are preparing for the faithful who will arrive in a few hours.

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