Cardinal Bo: 'We need the light of God’s mercy in Myanmar'

Cardinal Bo in Rome in 2017 Charles Maung Bo pictured during a visit to Rome in 2017./ ACI Stampa

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo has urged Catholics in Burma to share God’s mercy amid the suffering caused by the military coup in their country by visiting the mourning, sharing food with the starving, and praying unceasingly for peace.

“Today, more than ever, our community stands in need of mercy. Millions are starving. Before they could come out of that disaster, the coup came. Most of our people are starving. We need to share our resources. However poor we are, we could share something. That is the sign of Divine Mercy,” Cardinal Bo said in his homily on April 11.

“Hunger is not only the problem our people face: they are afraid, they are traumatized, their spirit is broken by street violence. They need Words. Words of comfort. We need to visit people who have lost their dear ones to the hatred … They all need the soothing words, like Jesus soothed his disciples: ‘Do Not be Afraid; I am with you always,’” he said.

Bo, the archbishop of Yangon and president of the Burmese bishops’ conference, made a pastoral visit on Divine Mercy Sunday to Myitkyina in the northern region of Kachin, which has experienced some of the worst violence as security forces crack down on protesters of the Feb. 1 military coup.

“Myitkyina has been in the news for sad reasons and reasons of faith and sacrifice. Sad reason because of the great tragedy of killing the innocents in the streets, especially in front of the church. The Church was drawn into the struggle of our people, called to accompany our people in their blood and tears,” the cardinal said.

“For many of you, the thirteenth station of the Cross, of Our Mother crying over the dead body of her Son, became real. We live in a country where hundreds of mothers live with inconsolable tears and their hearts wounded, like our Mother Mary, with the sight of their sons and daughters tortured and killed,” he said. “To all those mothers and all of you directly involved, we pray with grace flowing from the heart of Jesus.”

His visit came days after media reports that more than 80 people were killed by heavy artillery fire on protests in the town of Bago on April 9. 

Hundreds of civilians, including 44 children, have been killed in the violence in Burma since February, according to the United Nations. 

The UN World Food Programme has warned that rising food prices pose a significant threat to the poor and vulnerable in the country, including the thousands of people who have been displaced by the violence.

Churches and Buddhist temples in the Kachin region have also been subjected to military raids and searches, according to Agenzia Fides.

“We need the light of God’s mercy in Myanmar,” Cardinal Bo said, urging Catholics to practice works of mercy with good deeds and continued prayers for peace.

“Let us not repay inhumanity with inhumanity. Let us not repay brutality with brutality. Civil war would wound every one and will take decades to heal. Let us not take that path of self-destruction,” he said.

Cardinal Bo pointed in particular to St. Faustina Kowalska’s witness to God’s Divine Mercy. He invited Catholics to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and to recall the good news of the Lord’s resurrection.

“We have seen so many wounds, so much blood, so much atrocity against innocent people: We find it difficult to believe that God is present amid this darkness. Yes. Amid all this darkness, my brothers and sisters, it is important to believe that God will ultimately triumph over evil,” Bo said.

“Jesus is the wounded healer. His wounds wash away our pain today,” he said. “We pray to Jesus: Help us Lord, when our land is wounded and bleeding with hatred, let us become the wounded healer. Let us have the grace and courage to forgive and reconcile our worst enemies and give him the benefit of Love.”

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