Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon focuses his Advent Message on the “repugnant violence” that has marred Myanmar since the military coup of 1 February, calling on the faithful not to lose hope.
As the brutal military crackdown on democratic opposition continues in Myanmar, amidst growing social and economic hardships, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon has once again reiterated his heartfelt call for peace and reconciliation in the country.
A valley of tears
”The repugnant violence over the last ten months has offended the sensibilities of the world. Yet we do not accept the evil of despair and hate. With Jesus we wish to proclaim: let there be peace,” the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM) writes in his Message for Advent.
The message, entitled “Enough is Enough, My Dear Myanmar”, points to the grave responsibilities of the military junta that took over the country on February 1.
“Those who proactively started the violence and believe in the sadistic torture and killing are the primary cause of this valley of tears. Even to them, we say: ‘There is power in Love’. That is the message of Jesus and Christmas,” Cardinal Bo writes.
Violence only breeds violence
The Cardinal expresses his particular concern for Myanmar’s youth, who “strangled by inhuman violence“, might be tempted to seek vengeance.
However, “victory does not come through only holding guns” and “violence only breeds violence,” Cardinal Bo says, remarking that “there is always a nonviolent path, a peaceful solution”, as shown by Mahatma Gandhi.
Hoping in Christ
As a way forward the Message encourages the faithful in Myanmar to confide in Christ, recalling that He appeared “in a similar context of chaos and hatred”.
“The manger of Bethlehem ultimately won over the might of Rome. Let that be our hope,” says Cardinal Bo.
The Archbishop of Yangon, therefore, reiterates his call for peace and reconciliation in the country, emphasizing that there can be “no durable peace without justice”.
The Message concludes with an invitation to prayer for all, especially for young people.
“We pray that they continue to nurture hope and peace. Let them not seek solutions out of despair. We also pray for those who seek to dominate our people with guns. Our conflicts were never against a cross border enemy. All against our people. We can solve our differences.”
Widespread human rights violations
Since the coup which ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government in February, the human rights situation has deteriorated to unprecedented levels and the country faces a vortex of repression, violence and economic collapse, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Amnesty International, over 1,300 people have been killed and more than 10,000 have been arrested since February. Serious human rights violations have been reported, including the widespread use of torture and mass atrocity crimes.
One of the latest incidents is the horrendous massacre of civilians in Salingyi, in Sagaing, on December 7, where security forces burned to death 11 people, including 5 children. Meanwhile, last week a court sentenced democratic leader Suu Kyi to two years in prison for incitement against the military and flouting coronavirus restrictions during elections her party won last year.
Pope Francis’ appeals
In the past ten months, Pope Francis, who visited the country in 2017, has repeatedly called for a peaceful solution the crisis in Myanmar.
During a special Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Myanmar community in Rome, on 16 May, he invited the faithful present not to lose hope, reiterating his prayers “that God will convert all hearts to peace.”
With thanks to Vatican News and Lisa Zengarini, where this article originally appeared.