Pope Francis Appeals for Reconciliation in Myanmar

A Year After the Coup, the Conflict and Its Consequences Continue

Pope Francis Reconciliation
General Audience, January 5, 2022 © Vatican Media

Pope Francis appealed for reconciliation in Myanmar. “Since a year ago, we have witnessed with grief the violence that is blooding Myanmar. I make my own the appeal of the Burmese Bishops for the international community to act for the reconciliation of the parties concerned,” he said at the end of the General Audience this Wednesday, February 2, 2022.

The Holy Father made this appeal for the people of Myanmar a year after the coup of February 1, 2021, when the country’s Army took power deposing the government of the National League for Democracy of leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The takeover sparked a wave of protests and strikes, which were quelled by the military. Now it has become a civil conflict, with the emergence of the  “People’s Defense Forces,” of national ambit, opposed to the Military Junta.

“We cannot turn our face away from the suffering of so many brothers and sisters. We ask God in prayer to console that martyred population. We entrust to Him the efforts for peace,” added the Pontiff.

The Way of Dialogue, Peace, and Reconciliation

 For his part, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon and President of the Episcopal Conference of Myanmar, said in a message published yesterday by Fides Agency: “We are living a situation of stagnation. Our national community is disintegrated. To recover trust and rebuild our institutions will be a long and arduous task. The conflict is increasingly brutal; every day the atrocities are more shocking. Our people are not resigned, but seek peace with dignity. The country can only be reborn through reconciliation. Violence is not the only way to address evil, and it’s not an effective way, as it generates more violence. There is always the way of dialogue, the way of peace and reconciliation.”

In face of the grave situation, the Cardinal said that “the world should pay more attention to the solution of Myanmar’s problems” and “it’s distracted by the terrible events in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Ethiopia, but Myanmar is also torn and its economy is sinking.”

“We appreciate that the international community, including China and Japan, as well as ASEAN, can help us. ASEAN has established minimum conditions for Myanmar’s participation as a member: to halt the armed attacks, to release political prisoners, to permit dialogue between the parties concerned, and to facilitate access to humanitarian aid. Humanitarian aid must reach needy people, both in the country as well as on our borders,” he stressed.

In his message, the Archbishop also recalled that the Pope “has entrusted to the Church the great mission to be the architect of peace in this country. We all have a role to play in the quest for peace, in the prayer for peace. Peace is the only path and the Church in Myanmar must work together with all other brothers and sisters religious, to achieve peace.”

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester