Pope Francis has said that the real treasure of Myanmar is its people. As civil conflict worsens, Aid to the Church in Need supports the repeated calls of the local Catholic Church for peace and justice, not only for Christians, but for all citizens in the country.
On 1 February 2021, a military coup put an end to civilian rule in Myanmar, introducing an era of conflict that continues until this day.
As we mark the third anniversary of the coup, the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) stresses the urgency of continuing to pray for and work towards the establishment of peace and justice in Myanmar.
The conflict, which pits government forces against an assortment of armed resistance groups and ethnic militias, has turned significantly worse over the past year, with fighting affecting almost the entire country. ACN is keenly aware that the current situation brings suffering to all sectors of society and is posing a particular danger to vulnerable minority communities, such as Christians.
During his visit to the Asian country in 2017, Pope Francis said in a speech that “Myanmar has been blessed with great natural beauty and resources, yet its greatest treasure is its people.” At the time, he already said that the Burmese “have suffered greatly, and continue to suffer, from civil conflict and hostilities that have lasted all too long and created deep divisions.” Since February 2021, and especially during the last three months, this suffering has reached unprecedented dimensions.
“With so many high-profile conflicts in the world today, it is easy for Myanmar to become yet another forgotten conflict. It is crucial that we do not allow this to happen. We call on the international community to increase efforts for restoring peace and justice in the country. All actors in the conflict should try to put the love of peace and of neighbour above personal ambitions and gains”, says Regina Lynch, executive president of ACN International.
“In this context, it is inspiring to see how Church leaders, including priests, religious and catechists, continue to stand by their people, bringing consolation and God’s grace to the remotest areas”, she adds.
Testimonies reaching ACN describe how the country is apparently becoming a failed state and the war is impacting the whole community leaving in its wake destruction, killing and high numbers of displaced people, many of them old, disabled or mothers with children.
Moved by this terrible reality, Aid to the Church in Need continues to call for peace and respect of life, irrespective of religion: “They are walking a way of the cross, always hoping in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I was told of a song that children were overheard singing in a displaced camp: ‘Nowhere to go, no land to live, no bed to sleep, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide! There is no future how to survive! We need peace like a song, we need justice like a river, we need freedom like a wind and the grief of war must end!’ How could we not unite our voices to pray with these children’s pleas?”, Lynch asks.
“We urge all our benefactors to continue to pray for Myanmar, its Church and its people – with special intensity on February 1 – as we are sure that ‘if the Lord does not bless the house, the carpenter shall toil in vain’ (Ps. 127)”, she concludes.