Catholic social workers in Myanmar have pledged to play a greater role in nation building as the country copes with ethnic conflicts and its transition to democracy. Representatives from Karuna Myanmar Mission Solidarity (the national branch of Caritas) offices in 16 dioceses attended the Karuna Myanmar general assembly held at Christ the King Cathedral in Loikaw, Kayah State March 22-24. Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon opened the assembly and spoke on "Integrated Human Development." Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam of Banmaw, chairman of Karuna, said the role of the Catholic Church was very important in the transition to democracy. "It is the right time for us [social workers] to play a role in nation building and we need to move forward beyond development work," Bishop Gam told ucanews.com. He said Karuna has passed its 15th year of working for the needy and marginalized. Father Henry Eikhlein, director of Karuna in Pathein Diocese, said they would work for "a prophetic role" in the country's development towards a federal democratic nation. "The Catholic Church needs to carry out advocacy and speak out on human rights, justice and peace issues," Father Eikhlein told ucanews.com. Karuna Myanmar Mission Solidarity, the Catholic Church's social arm in the country, was established in 2002 to assist with holistic human development, justice and peace, environmental protection, humanitarian assistance and emergency relief services.
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