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Myanmar, Peru, Cameroon: Pope prays for countries in conflict

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Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 01/22/23

One of most ancient churches in Myanmar was burned and destroyed.

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Pope Francis turned his thoughts to various places of conflict after the midday Angelus of January 22:

Sadly, my thought turns in particular to Myanmar, where the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in the Village of Can Thar – one  of the most ancient and important places of worship in the country – was burned and destroyed. I am close to the helpless civilian population subject to severe trials in many cities.

Please God that this conflict will soon come to an end, opening a new period of forgiveness, love and peace. Let us pray together to Our Lady for Myanmar. [Recitation of the Hail Mary…]

As the Fides agency reported earlier this week, the church is in a locality considered a stronghold of those who oppose the Burmese military government.

The agency explained:

The Burmese army set fire to the ancient Church of the Assumption, built in 1894 in Chan Thar, a village inhabited by Catholics in the region of Sagaing, in the territory of the Archdiocese of Mandalay, located in the northeast of Myanmar. During the action on January 15, the soldiers also set fire to the nearby convent of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary (FMM), who were forced to flee with some 3,000 villagers. Their homes, numbering around 500, were also destroyed and only rubble remains of the village. Local sources of Fides note that clashes continue in the area, as the area is considered a stronghold of the People’s Defense Forces (PDF) rebels, who oppose the Burmese military junta that came to power with the coup of State in February 2021.

See the full report here.

Peru

Pope Francis also recalled the ongoing situation in Peru.

I also invite you to pray that the acts of violence in Peru might cease. Violence quenches the hope for a just solution to problems. I encourage all the parties involved to undertake the path of dialogue as brothers of the same nation, in full respect for human rights and the rule of law. I join the Peruvian Bishops in saying: ¡No a la violencia, venga de donde venga! ¡No más muertes! [No to violence wherever it comes from! No more deaths!] There are Peruvians in the Square….

The conflict in Peru erupted in early December when Congress removed President Pedro Castillo and replaced him with the vice-president. This was after multiple corruption investigations, and Castillo’s attempt to dissolve the opposition-led congress.

Protests began in rural areas in the south and have spread to the capital, Lima. More than 40 people have been killed in the conflicts.

Cameroon

Finally, turning to Africa, the Pope noted positive signs:

Positive signs are coming from Cameroon that bring the hope of progress toward the resolution of the conflict in the English-speaking regions. I encourage all the parties who have signed the Agreement to persevere on the path of dialogue and mutual understanding, for only through encounter can the future be designed.

The Pope was referring to an advance in peace, facilitated by Canada.

The government of Cameroon and separatist factions agreed to begin a peace process, and Canada has accepted a role in mediation, hoping to bring this conflict that has caused 6,000 victims since 2017 to an end.

“Canada welcomes the agreement by the parties to enter a process to reach a comprehensive, peaceful and political resolution of the conflict,” Canadian foreign minister M Mélanie Joly said in a statement on Friday, according to Reuters.

The agency explains that the conflict “stems from a perceived marginalization of Cameroon’s English-speaking community by the French-speaking majority in the central African state.”

As can be seen in the story below, the Church has at times been a collateral victim of the conflict.

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Pope Francis
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