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Pope to Celebrate Mass for Myanmar Catholics on May 16

The May 16 Mass is in line with the Pope's appeal for dialogue and peace in Myanmar, which has been in turmoil since February.

Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Mass this month for Myanmar Catholics living in Rome. He will celebrate the Mass at 10:00 am on May 16, the Solemnity of the Ascension.

The Pope’s gesture for Myanmar comes during the current Marian month of May, which he dedicated to a Prayer Marathon with Marian shrines across the globe, for an end to the pandemic. (Read: Antipolo Cathedral Joins 30 Marian Shrines for Global Rosary Month)

Speaking on Sunday after the midday Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis mentioned Myanmar and urged everyone to “pray for peace with a Hail Mary for Myanmar in our daily Rosary.”

“Each of us turns to our Mother when we are in need or in difficulty,” the Pope said. “This month, we ask our Mother of Heaven to speak to the hearts of all leaders in Myanmar so that they may find the courage to walk the path of encounter, reconciliation, and peace.”

Widening Violence

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People carry a protester who was shot during the security force crackdown on anti-coup protesters in Thingangyun, Yangon. (Photo from Reuters/Al Jazeera)

Violence has spiraled in Myanmar since the coup started on February 1, in which the military seized power by overthrowing the elected government of Aung Saan Suu Kyi and reversing years of slow progress toward democracy.

A nationwide protest, strike, and civil disobedience movement roiled the nation. Protesters demanded the release of Suu Kyi and the restoration of democracy, which has so far resulted in the killings of at least 766 civilians by security forces. (Read: Myanmar Bishops Condemn Killings of Anti-Coup Protesters)

The military’s confrontation has also widened with airstrikes, heavy artillery, and ground attacks against ethnic insurgency armies on Myanmar’s fringes, which is displacing thousands of civilians.

UN’s Efforts

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from Christine Schraner Burgener’s Twitter last April 1, 2021: “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested 2 months ago. Yesterday, I spoke again in the Security Council for the release of her and all those arrested since the coup.“ (Photo from Special Envoy of UN Secretary-General on Myanmar Twitter)

The United Nations (UN) Security Council on Friday strongly backed calls by Southeast Asian nations for an immediate cessation of violence and talks as a first step toward a solution following the military coup in Myanmar.

The council reiterated its demand for the restoration of democracy and the release of all detainees. They also condemned the use of violence against peaceful protesters and the deaths of hundreds of civilians. (Read: Myanmar Cardinal Says Good Works, Prayers Will Heal the Nation)

It is hoped that diplomatic efforts by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, known as ASEAN, and by the UN special envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener will produce tangible results.

Pope’s Closeness to Myanmar

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Pope Francis greets children as he arrives at Yangon International Airport in Yangon, Myanmar, Nov. 27, 2017. (Photo from CNS photo/Paul Haring/National Catholic Reporter)

Since February 1, Pope Francis, who visited Myanmar in 2017, has made numerous appeals for dialogue and peace in the country. (Read: Catholic Nuns, Priests Join Anti-Coup Protests in Myanmar)

His first appeal for peace came on Sunday, February 7, when he prayed that Myanmar’s military leaders might “place themselves with sincere willingness at the service of the common good, promoting social justice and national stability, for harmonious, democratic coexistence. Let us pray for Myanmar.”

The following day, in his state-of-the-world address to the diplomatic corps, the Pope hoped the country’s political leaders will be released as a sign of encouragement for a sincere dialogue aimed at the good of the country.

Again, on 3 March, the Pope raised his voice for dialogue and harmony so that the aspirations of the people of Myanmar may not be stifled by violence. This was followed by his general audience address on March 17, in which the Pope expressed his solidarity with the people of Myanmar.

“I too kneel on the streets of Myanmar and say: stop the violence! I too reach out my arms and say: may dialogue prevail!” the Pope said. (Read: Bishops in Myanmar Urge Military to End Violence, Start Dialogue)

More recently, in his Urbi et Orbi message on Easter Sunday, 4 April, the Pope expressed his closeness to the young people of the southeast Asian country who, he said are “committed to supporting democracy and making their voices heard peacefully, in the knowledge that hatred can be dispelled only by love.”

 


Text by Robin Gomes of Vatican News.

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