Easter appeal by the country’s top churchman comes as the military steps up attacks on rebel groups
Newsroom (10/04/2023 09:19 AM, Gaudium Press) Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon has appealed for peace and freedom in Myanmar, where tens of thousands of people, including Christians, continue to bear the brunt of an ongoing civil war between the military and ethnic rebel groups.
“As a nation and as a people, let us roll down the stones of hatred, human suffering and let the message of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, has risen ring in our hearts, in our streets and in every household in this nation,” said Cardinal Bo in an Easter message on April 9.
Just like “the stone was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb, so too can the stones that weigh us down be lifted, allowing us to experience the joy and freedom of new life in Christ.”
The 74-year-old cardinal further said that “let a new Paschal message be heard in this country and let my country rise again into freedom and peace.”
Cardinal Bo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM), said, “We are people of life, we are people of resurrection.”
The cardinal’s appeal came as Myanmar’s military stepped up air strikes, shelling and arson campaigns to crush rebel ethnic armed groups and the new People’s Defense Forces.
Churches, hospitals and schools in Christian strongholds in Kayah, Chin, Karen and Kachin states remain prime targets for the junta as thousands of internally displaced persons have taken refuge there, while thousands more have fled to neighbouring India and Thailand.
The cardinal urged Christians to work as advocates for justice and equality and act as peacemakers.
“We must stand up for those who are oppressed and marginalized, and work to eliminate the systemic forces that keep people in poverty and suffering and bury the innocents before their time of death,” Cardinal Bo, who also acts as chairman of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC), said.
He said: “We must be peacemakers. We must work to resolve conflicts and bring about reconciliation, both in our personal relationship and in the wider world.”
Pope Francis has spoken several times about the crisis in Myanmar, which he regards with much affection after visiting the country in November 2017.
In his traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) Easter message on April 9, the supreme pontiff repeated his call for peace in the troubled nation.
Compiled by Raju Hasmukh with files from UCAN News