Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Rangoon and President of the Conference of Burmese Bishops, has just launched an urgent appeal for peace, in the aftermath of the terrible attack which hit the Church of the Sacred Heart of Kayanthayar, in the night May 23, 2021.
“This is a huge humanitarian tragedy, all of this must stop.” Cardinal Charles Bo grimly spoke on May 25, 2021 to denounce the abuses of the Burmese army at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Kayanthayar, in the east of the country.
According to information collected by the Jesuit missionaries present in Burma, “the inhabitants of the village believed that the parish church would be a place where they could shelter the fleeing people, but, tragically, this was not the case.”
In fact, on the night of May 22-23, “the soldiers attacked the village with artillery shells, with the aim of striking suspected rebel groups,” the Jesuits continued. The toll was heavy: four dead, eight injured.
According to the Asianews agency, the attack by the Burmese army was aimed at avenging the death of twenty soldiers killed by armed militias from the Karen ethnic group, who - together with other ethnic minorities such as the Chin, the Shan, and the Kachins - have stood up against the Burmese junta since the coup d'état last February 1st.
“The victims are innocent civilians…who were inside the church to protect their families. …All this must stop,” protested the leader of the Burmese Catholic Church, who stressed that for the first time, a Catholic place of worship has been targeted, in flagrant violation of international law.
On February 1, 2021, the military junta signed the fourth coup d'état in the country's history since its independence in 1948. Contesting the result of the 2020 legislative elections won once again by the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, which had been overturned by the army.
But a civil disobedience movement has taken hold. Several hundred thousand demonstrators are marching through major Burmese cities to reject this coup and demand the release of “Mother Suu.”
Gradually the discontent is being turned into a civil and ethnic war that the Burmese army is repressing in blood. In this conflict, the Catholic Church, strongly in the minority but whose voice is heard, now finds itself on the front line.