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Myanmar prelate calls for prayers as fighting escalates

Bishop Pyone Cho urges the faithful to pray for an end to hostilities in Rakhine state

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Myanmar prelate calls for prayers as fighting escalates

This aerial view taken on Oct. 2 shows part of the Ayeyarwadi Centre in Yangon being used as a treatment facility with 550 beds for Covid-19 patients. (Photo: AFP)

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As fighting escalates in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, a bishop has requested Christians pray for the immediate cessation of conflict.

Bishop Alexander Pyone Cho from Pyay, which covers conflict-torn Rakhine, has urged the faithful to say the rosary and observe one hour's adoration with the intention to cease hostilities in Rakhine and control the Covid-19 outbreak.

“I urge priests and nuns to assist the active participation of the faithful in the prayer program in October,” Bishop Pyone Cho said in a letter.

The prelate’s request for prayers comes as the Southeast Asian country faces ongoing ethnic conflict as well as a second Covid-19 outbreak.

Fighting has continued unabated in Rakhine and Chin states as a 22-month conflict embroils Myanmar’s military and the Arakan Army.

More than 90,000 people have been displaced due to the renewed conflict in Rakhine that has spilled into neighboring Chin state, home to many Christians, mostly ethnic Chin.

The Arakan Army is a largely Buddhist militia fighting for greater autonomy for ethnic Rakhine in the state. Rakhine also has a separate conflict that has seen more than 700,000 Rohingya flee to neighboring Bangladesh since August 2017 due to military offensives.

Bishop Pyone Cho had called for dialogue among the concerned parties as civilians, including children and the elderly, bear the brunt of the fighting.

The UN and humanitarian groups have expressed concern as the conflict has resulted in a surge in civilian casualties and displacement.

“We’re all damaged by war. No one wins. The only way is peace. With peace, humanity wins,” Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon said in an appeal letter in August.

He stressed that “dialogue flows from open hearts and minds, from that passion for truth without which society disintegrates. Vitality comes from the embrace of difference.”

The cardinal also called for the rosary and participated in a one-hour adoration through online programs to contain Covid-19 in the country. He has appointed priests from Yangon Archdiocese to succor the faithful.

“As Christians, we need to maintain our faith and carry out three S vaccines — solidarity, sharing and service,” Cardinal Bo said in a homily on Oct. 4.

Myanmar had reported 18,781 confirmed coronavirus cases including 444 deaths and 5,548 recoveries as of Oct. 5.

According to the latest data, more than 1,043,000 people have died out of more than 35 million infections worldwide.

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