YANGON, Myanmar — Catholic bishops in Myanmar have demanded respect for human life and the sanctity of places of worship, hospitals and schools in the conflict-torn Southeast Asian nation.
“Human dignity and the right to life can never be compromised. We strongly demand respect for life, respect for the sanctity of sanctuary in places of worship, hospitals and schools again,” the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar said in a statement June 11.
Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, president of the conference, and 18 bishops signed the document, which was released after the bishops’ general assembly in Yangon June 7-10, ucanews.com reported.
Myanmar’s military junta has continued to target churches and its institutions in recent months.
Dozens of churches including Catholic churches in Kayah and Chin states have been destroyed in airstrikes and artillery shelling while thousands of people including Christians have been displaced, some fleeing into neighboring India.
At least 450 homes were set ablaze by junta troops in the historic Catholic villages of Chan Thar and Chaung Yoe in the Sagaing region in recent weeks.
The bishops’ statement, however, did not specifically mention the burning of homes in Catholic villages, although it expressed deep concern over the worsening situation in the country and the situation of affected people regardless of race and religion.
They urged that much-needed humanitarian assistance be allowed to reach displaced people across the country.
“As the CBCM stands for justice, peace, reconciliation, it strongly demands all concerned to facilitate humanitarian access to suffering and internally displaced people in order to provide them the basic humanitarian assistance,” the bishops said.
The Catholic leaders also asked all dioceses in the country to advance peace through prayer, reciting the rosary daily and celebrating Mass at the start of every month.
More than 1,900 people, including more than 100 children, have been killed and an additional 14,000 detained since the February 2021 military coup.