Myanmar bishops launch ‘inter-religious prayer’ drive amid COVID-19 surge

COVID-19 infections in Myanmar have surged since June, with about 6,000 cases and 300 deaths reported daily

Listen to this article: Myanmar bishops launch ‘inter-religious prayer’ drive amid COVID-19 surge

The Catholic bishops of Myanmar launched on Monday, August 2, a “national prayer campaign” as coronavirus cases in the country continue to surge.

The two-week religious campaign aims to unite various groups “to come together as one community” and to let “compassion become the common religion in these dark days.”

A statement signed by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Myanmar, said the country needs “to get ready to face (the) extraordinary challenge” of the new wave of COVID-19 infections.

Infections in the Southeast Asian country have surged since June, with about 6,000 cases and 300 deaths reported daily in the past weeks, according to health ministry.

Medics and funeral services put the toll much higher.

“These are very threatening times for the dignity and survival of our people,” read the bishops’ statement.

“Once again, we plead, unity is needed. No conflict, no displacement. The only war we need to wage is against the virus,” it added.

Britain’s UN ambassador warned last week that half of Myanmar’s 54 million people could be infected with COVID-19 in the next two weeks.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the military ousted an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, with protests and fighting between the army and newly formed militias.

The United States, Britain and others have imposed sanctions on the military rulers over the coup and repression of pro-democracy protests in which hundreds have been killed.

“The coup has resulted in a near total collapse of the healthcare system, and health care workers are being attacked and arrested,” said British UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward.

“The virus is spreading through the population, very fast indeed. By some estimates, in the next two weeks, half of the population of Myanmar could be infected with COVID,” she said.

Volunteers pray in front of bodies of people who died due to COVID-19 during funeral at a cemetery in Mandalay, Myanmar, on July 14, 2021. (Reuters photo)

In his statement, Cardinal Bo urged the people to support each other and to help all health workers “reach out to the suffering people.” He urged everyone to “raise our hands and hearts to the Almighty, for healing.”

“Let us support one another through continuous prayer,” read the cardinal’s statement. “I urge the Catholic Church to have continuous prayers, adorations, Rosary chains in the families and communities,” he added.

“Let us knock at the divine doors, to melt the hearts of all people, to bring healing, peace and reconciliation,” said Cardinal Bo.

“Our people’s destiny is more and more in the hands of God as we sail through these stormy seas of fear, despair, anxiety and pandemic,” he said.

“Let the divine hand reach out and bless our country and protect our people from the pandemic and all other calamities,” added the cardinal.

“Our problems press us like mountains. But let us use faith. Let us become prayer warriors; heal ourselves. Let God’s healing hand touch everyone and bring health to all our people,” said Cardinal Bo.

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