MANILA - The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has set a day of prayer for the people of Myanmar, with the country still under a military junta and violence escalating between the army and those opposing the military rule.
In a circular released on Wednesday, CBCP President and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles called on churches across the country to dedicate a special prayer on Sunday, May 30, "for the suffering people of Myanmar."
"Since 1 February 2021, when the military coup in Myanmar was reported, we have been following in the news the very sad unfolding of events of the suffering of the people of Myanmar," Valles said.
"Since then, every day is a day of violence and misery for these beautiful people of the nation of Myanmar."
The Filipino archbishop said he also received a special letter from the archbishop of Yangon, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo. The letter detailed the last Sunday, May 23, at the Sacred Heart Church in Kayanthayar, near Loikaw in Eastern Myanmar where 4 people died while many were injured.
"This message of Cardinal Bo regarding this particular terrible act of violence committed against the people gathered in a house of worship describes vividly and painfully the ongoing suffering of the people of Myanmar," Valles said.
Cardinal Bo also releases a letter through his social media account, lamenting the said deadly attack on civilians who were seeking refuge in the church.
The cardinal, who is also the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference, added that those who survived fled to the jungle and their fate is still not known.
"Food, medicine, and hygiene are urgent needs but there is no way of reaching them. There are many children and old people among them, forced to starve and without any medical aid. This is a great humanitarian tragedy," Cardinal Bo said.
The archbishop also reminded the opposing forces in Myanmar that places of worship, including hospitals and schools, are protected during conflict through the Hague Conventions.
"Apart from all protocols, let us remember the blood that is spilled is not some enemy's blood; those who died and those who were wounded are the citizens of this country. They were not armed; they were inside the church to protect their families... This needs to stop," the cardinal added.
Violence in Myanmar has erupted since the military, known as the Tatmadaw, seized powers. Many civilian leaders were arrested and are now facing charges including Aung San Suu Kyi.
Chaos continue to escalate as the junta tries to suppress daily protests and several acts of civil disobedience.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 800 were already killed in the military's crackdown on dissidents.
Last May 16, Pope Francis offered a special Mass with Myanmar Catholics in Rome for the end of conflict in the Southeast Asian country.
In his homily, the pontiff reminded the faithful to avoid "the disease of division" and "to find the courage to live in friendship, love and fraternity." With a report from Reuters