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ASIA/MYANMAR - The Vicar of Loikaw: "The churches in the sights of the military"

Loikaw (Agenzia Fides) - It is a serious and dramatic situation in the diocese of Loikaw, in the Burmese state of Kayah (eastern Myanmar), where the conflict between the Burmese army and the popular defense forces that oppose the military junta, after the coup of February 1 status is wreaking havoc. The local Catholic Church is doing everything possible to help the internally displaced, but "the churches are in the sights of the military": this is what Father Celso Ba Shwe, Vicar General of the Catholic diocese of Loikaw reports. Given the sudden death of the Bishop and the vacant bishopric, Father Celso Ba Shwe, Vicar General, is governing the ordinary pastoral care of the diocese.
In the pastoral letter released today, the Vicar refers to the intense fighting between the army and the resistance forces made up of young people of all ethnic groups and religions. In a critical scenario from a humanitarian point of view and precarious for the safety of civilians, "all the religious communities of the diocese are giving shelter and helping civilians in their respective churches and buildings. But the churches are in the sights of the military", he says with serious concern.
In the face of unprecedented violence and ferocity, with indiscriminate bombings against displaced women, the elderly and children, the Vicar exhorts all the people of God "to turn to the Virgin Mary and to pray the Rosary every evening at 7 p.m. for peace and for the return of stability in Myanmar".
The text of the letter underlines that "the population is tired and terrified and now, due to the bombing of churches and monasteries, where civilians had found shelter, they are fleeing to forest areas that are also unsafe", he points out.
As reported to Agenzia Fides, at least six churches have been hit or affected by violence and military raids in recent days. Local priests and religious are using all their physical and spiritual energies to stay close to the population in a phase of real humanitarian emergency. (PA-JZ) (Agenzia Fides, 8/6/2021)

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