Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Myanmar appealed for an end to violence as thousands of civilians continue to flee their homes in the conflict-ridden Southeast Asian country.
“Nobody deserves violence, the torture, incarceration, and death that we witness in our country for the last four months,” said the prelate in a message during Mass on Sunday.
The United Nations estimated that up to 230,000 people have already been displaced by fighting in several parts of the country as armed ethnic groups wage war against government state forces.
The activist group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reported that about 5,200 people have been detained and at least 881 people have already been killed since February when the military seized power.
“May the healing touch of Jesus our Lord touch each one of us, the nation and all its leaders and bring peace,” said Cardinal Bo in his homily during Sunday Mass.
The cardinal said Myanmar is experiencing “dark moments of challenges” as “thousands of our countrymen and women are in desperate need for food, medicine and shelter.”
The prelate reiterated his earlier call for prayer as he appealed to everyone “to share, as St Paul says, out of our abundance.”
He said the conflict added to the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, at least six people who escaped to the jungles to avoid the shooting war in Myanmar’s Chin state reportedly died due to lack of access to medical care.
A pregnant woman, two infants, and three elderly people were the latest casualties since fighting erupted between Myanmar’s military and the dissident group Chinland Defense Force.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that more than 20,000 people were sheltering at 100 displacement areas in Chin state bordering India.
An estimated 177,000 people were also displaced in Kayah state bordering Thailand.
Cardinal Bo warned against the “nauseating chronicle of killing, wading through rivers of blood” that the world has witnessed throughout history.
“History books are soaked in human blood, not written in ink but in the blood of the innocents,” he said.
“Countries under violence become a valley of death and bones. Agents of the devil are active,” said the prelate.
He reminded the faithful of the example of Jesus in the Gospel who “preached against violence.”
“Jesus refused to inflict violence. He did not make others scapegoats and sacrificed them,” he said.
“Instead he made himself the lamb of God and fell victim to violence in a great act of redemptive suffering,” added Cardinal Bo.
“What violence we have witnessed in the last four months! Sheer horror,” he said.
“Jesus was crucified in our streets and villages. Those in power believe only in the violent option, provoking others to fall into the violence trap,” he added.
Cardinal Bo said peace “is the prayer in the lips of every citizen in this country.”
“Let there be no more death, no more mourning, no more crying or pain. Enough of violence, enough of hatred,” said the Catholic Church leader.
“Let not our streets be filled with the blood and hemorrhage of hatred, let us all: the army, the civilian government, the people, rise up from the culture of death and dance with joy of freedom, hope, peace and prosperity,” he said.
Pope Francis last week appealed for help for the people of Myanmar.
“I join my voice to that of the bishops of Myanmar, who last week launched an appeal calling to the attention of the whole world the harrowing experience of thousands of people in that country who are displaced and are dying of hunger,” said the pope after the prayer of the Angelus on June 20.
On June 11, Myanmar’s Catholic bishops issued a statement appealing for peace, a humanitarian corridor in the conflict zones, and respect for the sanctity of places of worship.
The bishops urged the faithful in Myanmar “to launch into a period of intense prayer, seeking compassion in the hearts of all and peace to this nation” with daily Mass, adoration, and the rosary.
“May the Heart of Christ touch the hearts of all bringing peace to Myanmar,” Pope Francis said.
Protests have been held almost daily in Myanmar since the coup that cut short a decade of democratic reforms and also sparked paralyzing strikes in the country.