.- After three days of general strikes in Nepal, local Christians have begun praying the Rosary for national peace.
The country’s Maoist opposition called the general strike, which has reduced traffic in the capital and stopped public transport and commercial activity. Shops, schools, offices and factories are closed.
Thousands of Maoist demonstrators from across the country have entered the city, staging peaceful protests with anti-government slogans and chants.
Fr. Pius Perumana, pro-vicar apostolic of Nepal, told Fides that while events have been peaceful so far “the situation could deteriorate at any moment.”
The protests have stopped Church activity and missionary work and schools have had to close.
“One of our priests, Fr. Richard Vas, was stopped while riding a motor cycle and threatened, but fortunately the police intervened and he was rescued,” he added.
Bishop Anthony Sharma, the apostolic prefect of Nepal, has rallied Catholic parishes, schools and religious communities to hold daily recitations of the Rosary throughout May and to hold Eucharistic Adoration at least one hour every week.
He has asked them to pray “for national peace, and for a successful drafting and approval of a new Constitution without violence.”
According to Fr. Perumana, the Catholic Church in Nepal has called on the faithful to “live these days with serenity, and with the optimism of faith and hope, to recite a daily Rosary throughout the month of May, traditionally dedicated to Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
The priest reported that Catholics are praying to the Virgin Mary to “intercede that peace may prevail and bloodshed be avoided, that our rulers may be illuminated and reach a political compromise to end the crisis.”
The Maoist party holds the majority in the constituent assembly. It has called for the government to step down so that it may be replaced by a national unity coalition tasked with launching the new constitution.
It also advocates that this proposed coalition accelerate the peace process begun in 2006 following the popular revolt which brought down the Nepalese monarchy.