Bishop Celso Ba Shwe of the violence-hit Loikaw diocese has asked to dedicate October rosaries to pray for peace
With the United Nations rights office decrying the increased use of airstrikes and artillery shelling to conduct mass killings in Myanmar, a Catholic bishop has asked Catholics to dedicate October to praying for peace.
“Each day, the people of Myanmar are enduring horrifying attacks, flagrant human rights violations and the crumbling of their livelihoods and hopes,” Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the Human Rights Council on Sept.26.
Turk termed the violence “inhumanity in its vilest form” and said three specific military tactics have been systematically directed against the civilian population: airstrikes, mass killings, and burning of villages.
The military undertook 687 airstrikes, more than double the number carried out in the 14 months following the February 2021 military coup.
Turk said his office had documented 22 instances of mass killings of more than ten and air strikes on a gathering in a village in central Myanmar that killed about 150 people last April and the aerial bombing of a concert in the Kachin rebels-controlled area that killed dozens last October.
At least eight out of the 16 dioceses in the country including Loikaw, Pekhon, and Mandalay have been affected by the ongoing fighting where they have witnessed a series of fighting, airstrikes, artillery shelling and burning of villages.
Bishop Celso Ba Shwe of Loikaw, which covers Kayah state asked Catholics to pray the rosary in October. The month is dedicated to praying the rosary to Mary as the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary also falls on Oct.7.
Shew appealed to Catholics “to pray and say rosary during October for peace in Myanmar as well as in Kayah state” in his pastoral letter issued on Sept.27.
The Kayah state became one of the hot-beds of conflict as the military looked to crush the armed resistance from the combined force of ethnic groups and the newly formed People’s Defense Forces (PDFs).
Dozens of churches have been hit by airstrikes and shelling and at least 16 parishes in the Loikaw diocese have been abandoned after priests, nuns, and followers fled their homes.
There are nearly 250,000 displaced persons in 200 camps in Kayah state. More than 9,000 people from the state have fled their homes and taken refuge in Thailand since the fighting started in June, according to rights groups.
The Catholic Church has been providing humanitarian aid to the displaced people, and supporting them with counseling. Workers also help provide education to their children, especially those displaced in the conflict-affected dioceses.
Christians make up nearly 6 percent of Myanmar’s population of 54 million, a majority of them Buddhist.
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