Burmese bishops launch interreligious prayer effort amid Covid surge

St Marys Cathedral Yangon Credit Ronald Woan via Flickr CC BY NC 20 CNA St. Mary's Cathedral in Yangon./ Ronald Woan via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

The Catholic bishops of Burma on Monday launched a national prayer campaign as coronavirus cases in the country continue to surge.

"I call upon all people to enter into a campaign of prayer, raising our hands and hearts to the  Almighty, for healing. Let us come together as one community, let compassion become the common religion in these dark days. Transcending our  various religious and faith identities, let us come together for inter religious prayer meetings on line.  Let us support one another through continuous prayer," read an Aug. 2 message to the people of Burma signed by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, president of the Burmese bishops’ conference.

The message said the country needs “to get ready to face (the) extraordinary challenge” of the new wave of COVID-19 infections.

Infections in Burma, also known as Myanmar, have surged since June, with about 6,000 cases and 300 deaths reported daily in the past weeks, according to the 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 Burma’s 54 million people could be infected with COVID-19 in the next two weeks.

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

The United States, Great 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.

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.

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“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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