Good Shepherd sisters provide food to poor families in Mandalay on May 1. (Photo: Good Shepherd Myanmar Foundation)
Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon has praised the response of Myanmar’s dioceses and religious to the poor as great gestures of love to brothers and sisters in suffering.
“Churches may be closed but the heart of Christianity is not closed,” he said.
Cardinal Bo said religious, Catholic business people and dioceses have broken bread with the hungry in the slums, IDP camps and villages through supplying food to thousands of people.
“Our doors are opened to brothers and sisters in need of isolation or quarantine. Being a small church has not deterred us from reaching out,” he said in a homily on May 17.
“We are glad that our faith is in action. We bear witness to Christ’s love through acts of charity.”
Cardinal Bo, who is president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, stressed that charitable works to suffering people are “the great evangelization today.”
“Those of us who are used to seeing Christ only in the churches, now we are in the streets, carrying his great message of love and sharing among our brothers and sisters,” he said.
The outspoken cardinal said that sharing of resources is not an NGO’s work and that is “the great blessing.”
“We work with great humility that in this work we encounter Christ himself as the Bible affirms,” he said.
The cardinal has called for prayers for those who are in refugee and IDP camps and for thousands of migrant workers who are struggling to return.
Cardinal Bo said in this time of pandemic when human beings are afraid of one another and social distancing keeps us from our dear ones, “there are many temptations to forget people below us.”
“The pope has warned that humanity can be struck by four new viruses worse than Covid-19: selfishness, indifference, disdain towards the poor and vulnerable and confusion of values,” he said.
Public Masses suspended again
Churches in Myanmar remain closed and Catholics will continue to take part in online Sunday Masses until May 31 in compliance with the government’s measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The government has extended restrictions including a ban on public and religious gatherings, suspension of visas and international flights from May 15 until May 31.
Regional governments have eased some restrictions in four townships in Yangon and one in Sagaing. However, six townships in Yangon regarded as hotspots will remain under semi-lockdown.
Restaurants and tea shops in the Yangon region have been allowed to reopen with eat-in dining.
Mandalay regional government has also eased measures by allowing markets and construction sites to reopen, but restaurants are restricted to takeaway and delivery services.
The curfew in most parts of Myanmar has been eased and is now in force from midnight to 4am.
Myanmar has reported 187 Covid-19 cases including six deaths and 97 recoveries, according to the latest data.